Roth’s iconoclastic books greatly expanded the traditional definition of the medium, and he had an equally open approach to other formats. He was an incredibly skilled printmaker: by age sixteen he had made rudimentary etchings by scratching into a flattened tin can. He soon learned to make wood and linoleum cuts, and later absorbed commercial methods at an advertising agency in Bern. He took lithography classes, worked with typography in Copenhagen, and did letterpress printing through his own imprint, forlag ed, in Reykjavik. But rather than obsess over fine craftsmanship, he used his accumulated knowledge to subvert technical perfection. To this end, he invented what he called “pressings” and “squashings,” sending food—cheese, sausage, foil-wrapped chocolates—rather than inked plates through the printing press, or pouring fruit and vegetable juices on printed sheets.
His carried his use of foodstuffs over into his work with editioned three-dimensional objects, or multiples. Roth took chocolate as a primary material, melting it down and using it in numerous projects that embody his interest in decay, an irresistible concept for a lover of homonyms—such as rot, Rot (red), and Roth—who once said that works of art “should change like man himself, grow old and die.”