43rd Annual Meeting – Book & Paper Session, May 15, "To Do or Not To Do: Two Examples of Decision Making of Digital In-filling for Asian Works of Art" by Hsin-Chen Tsai

Japanese and Chinese artworks, such as hanging scrolls, hand scrolls, folding screens and panels, have two components: the primary artwork and the mount. This talk focused on the treatment of the mounts for a folding screen entitled The Deities of the Tanni-sho by Munakata Shiko, and a hanging scroll entitled Standing Courtesan, by Keisai Eisen.
The current condition and the information carried by the mounting are balanced in making treatment decisions. When both the condition and the retained information are poor; more extensive treatment is carried out. This was the case for the folding screen. The original mounting paper was decorated using a Japanese fold-dying technique that created a repeating pattern that would be difficult to reproduce by hand. The author decided to make digital infills for this for three reasons: there was enough remaining original material for reference, the fills would not change the context and character, and it would be less time-consuming.

Folding screen before treatment.
Folding screen before treatment.

Here is a step-by-step of the process:
1. She took a digital image of an intact section of the mount.
2. She opened the image in PhotoShop and made adjustments to distortion, brightness, contrast, and color balance.
3. She printed onto a lined sheet of sekishu paper with an Epsum stylus Pro 4900 printer.
4. She matched the pattern with the losses and traced them over a light box.
5. After filling, there was some minor toning required.
For the scroll, Japanese paste paper had been used as the mount. It was an uda (clay-containing) paper with alum-gelatin sizing. It was hand-stamped in an irregular pattern and an uneven tone. The damage was typical of this kind of object: the mechanical action of rolling and unrolling led to horizontal damage and losses. Since the author was not able to guess exactly what the lost areas had looked like, she decided to infill using hand-toned paper without a decorative pattern.