Seditions Editions

Fine Art Editions but not in Print.

s[edition] is an online gallery that sells screen based digital editions (video and stills) by a number of high profiled artists. Here the editioning practice embraces the inherent qualities of the digital medium and brings a further dimension to the artwork in multiple format – whilst enriching the possibilities of what one (those predominantly brought up on physically editioned artifacts) understand as editioning in the digital age. Also see ‘Would you spend £500 on pixelated art’? By Florence Waters at the Telegraph.

Gareth Neal, Anne Chair
Gareth Neal, Anne Chair

‘Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculpture to discover it’. Michelangelo

More postdigital ruminations.

Designer Gareth Neal combines traditional techniques and forms with modern technology. Neal’s work engages with his own personnel research (at Brighton University) into traditional processes and digital manufacture, with designs that engage with the tacit qualities embedded within the materials, processes, and function. Carved / milled with a CNC machine the Queen Anne-style console ‘sits’ within it’s digitally rendered case. It is as if Neal’s chair has been teleported from the Star ship Enterprise. Neal’s Anne Chair image resembles the re-materialization status of an object in teleport where both matter and information momentarily coexist. A large amount of Neal’s furniture design’s are achieved through a combination of computer-controlled machinery and hand-carving techniques which see history, traditional craft, and contemporary design merge.

Drawing Systems

Tim Head, Slow Life, (web A2 No.5) 2002 ink on Bristol Board
Tim Head, Slow Life, (web A2 No.5) 2002 ink on Bristol Board

‘Unlike the remote precision of digital programmes the drawings carry the nervous rhythms and seismic waverings of the hand made’.
– Tim Head

Human’s imitating machines and machines imitating humans brings together all sorts of collisions and transhumanism references. Artist Tim Head’s artwork Slow Life is a hand rendered drawing created according to instructions that are similar to digitally produced images. I’ll explain, the drawing is created according to the results of flipping coins, if the coin lands on heads a horizontal line is made and then a vertical line if the coin lands on tails.

The Pond of Tranquility

Matthew Day Jackson, Reflections of the Sky, 2010
Matthew Day Jackson, Reflections of the Sky, 2010

One of the best things about the technological age is the way we learn now: it’s so multifaceted. And even with all the death and destruction in my work, I still feel that what I express – and the artist I’ve become – is a celebration of this technological age. – Matthew Day Jackson

With presentation cue’s to Monet’s Reflections of Clouds on the Water-Lily Pond Matthew Day Jackson‘s Reflections of the sky depicts a surface area of the moon (based on a Mercator map) that has been rendered by laser etching gypsum board (wallboard or Drywall) – a mass-produced material often used within domestic interiors. The etched pits and troughs that create the images surface topography also retain a gritty interference quality. The result exists somewhere between the quality of the production process and the visual noise associated with distant screen based transmissions.

Rebel Relief

Sam Burford, Star Wars Relief, 2011
Sam Burford, Star Wars Relief, 2011

 

Sam Burford‘s Star Wars Relief is a timelapse photograph taken from the film Star Wars IV. Burford uses a bespoke capture device to record the film footage that is then rendered as a series of extended (and abstract) film stills (see example here). In this instance the image has been transformed into a surface relief made from silicon – a material previously used in film production to create sets and props. The relief work subsequently has allusions to pre-digital cinematic model making methods and aesthetic reference to the surface structure of the Empires Imperial Starships and Space Station.

Link below should get you in the mood for Sam’s sculpture.

https://soundcloud.com/quintooos/starwars-the-imperial-march

Already Made

Rob Myers, Urinal, 3D file
Rob Myers, Urinal, 3D file

Gonna go straight in to it. Like Duchamp, Myers has enabled an art work to exist by an idea alone. In keeping with Duchamp’s iconic Fountain (1917) the artist (Myers) has removed his hand from the work – albeit by employing another to create a potential object to exist, rather than appropriating an existing object and nominating it as art.
Myers Urinal was created by Chris Webber a software engineer who generated the model as three dimensional image so that the digital file could be physically rendered by a 3D printer. The file has been made available by the artist for anyone to download, print and sign (see thingverse download page). Alternatively (if you don’t happen to have a 3D printer to hand) Myers 3D printed Urinal is also available to purchase through shapeways. Although technically Duchamp did not completely remove the Urinal’s possible function I do believe Myers Urinal to be purely ornament.

Bleeding Pixels

Paul Ferragut, Time Print Machine
Paul Ferragut, Time Print Machine

Came across the artist Paul Ferragut some time ago but as this specific work is time based then maybe this is a timely post!

Ferragut’s Time Printing Machine creates a pixelated aesthetic that is realized through durational deposits of ink on paper. By using a time based algorythm to drive a mechanical plotter Ferragut has devised a mark making system that optimizes the relationship between material absorption and image rendering. Ferragut explains “The time print device uses blotting paper with Letraset felt-pen. The felt-pen ink bleed in the paper for a duration relative to the grey value of a pixel. Every “time stain” gradually recreates any image in a pointilist style.” The work was produced for Ferragut’s MA show at London Central St Matins  in 2011.

See Ferragut’s time print machine video below.

Print is Dead Series

Paul Laidler, Print is Dead, 2012
Paul Laidler, Print is Dead, 2012

‘Prints are like repeated stories, passed on from one to another, sometimes accurate recordings, other times with added variations and distortions, either by design or accident. Working within a series, prints become a game of whispers, each story retold, misheard and elaborated on to create new meaning and context’. – The Mechanical Hand

The series of paintings described in this post is an ongoing body of work that I started in 2010, so get ready as I’m gonna prattle on for a bit. Over the past couple of years I have written and talked about the series intermittently, from a variety of different perspectives and for different audiences. Subsequently and somewhat to my surprise I have received a number of requests to make the work/text available online. Given that the series has been published ‘in print’ this version has been edited and refocused.

Printed Paintings

The post discusses the themes of printmaking, collaboration, process, and the digital age as a series of concepts toward the initiation and production of a digitally mediated ‘print’ series ‘Print is Dead’ (figures 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5). Here the preoccupation with production and process is emphasized over the end product as a means to address the collaborative print process and the conceptual considerations for the work, engaging with printmaking themes. Whilst the resulting works are not prints in the truest sense, printmaking is imbedded as a means to consider the broadening definition of ‘print’ in the digital age. In this instance printmaking is considered as an expanded term through the production of paintings whilst the digitally mediated ‘print’ is realised through the Print on Demand model – a facility synonymous with digital technology. Collectively the themes and production processes highlight the often de-emphasised collaborative undertaking by printers for artists, and the subsequent acknowledgement of this art category, whilst the resulting artworks challenge assumptions of authorship and originality in the production of artworks for artists.

Introduction

Historically within the fine arts, print was used as a means to reproduce other works of art such as paintings – a medium of seemingly higher esteem. Although the premise of the reproduction was often for disseminatory and financial reasons, the quality of execution was still important. The reproduction was dependent upon the original source material, the skill of the engraver and techniques developed over the years to accurately transcribe and replicate.
The transcription processes used to produce the Print is Dead series differ from the historical rationale for replication in art. Instead the work can be seen as an examination of a process rather than the reproduction of a subject; elevating the ‘reproduction’ to the status of an ‘original’. For instance, the dependence upon an original source for accurate replication becomes impractical in this context – the source image exists as only an infinitely reproducible digital file that is susceptible to a number of transformations in appearance, both on screen and as a printed image. The resulting series of individual artworks can only ever be copies of the original digital file, yet remain unique in their systematic production.
The allusions to production processes within the Print is dead series are considered in much the same way. The artwork is conceived by thinking about the print medium in terms of a process rather than producing printed artworks; the medium is addressed in relation to print’s inherent relationship with reproduction, where the Publish-on-Demand facility becomes the appropriated tool. The content arises from the seamless integration of digital technology within pre-digital processes, practice and media.

The resulting (non-digital) artworks can be seen as a response to Marshall McLuhan’s “rearview-mirror view of the world” observation, that we are initially numbed by new technology until it has been completely superseded its predecessor. McLuhan states that in this transition period of ‘the present’, our senses become overwhelmed so much so that we go from the unfamiliar back to the familiar. We attach ourselves to the objects and atmospheres that characterise the past where we feel a compulsion to make the old environment more visible.
The resulting non-digital artworks reflect McLuhan’s technological transition period in that the field of printmaking is still awaiting the arrival of its digital natives. The process and production of the Print is Dead series is representative of this current juncture between technologies and conscious of the fact that it is an analogue work within a digital age.

POD

The POD (Print-on-Demand) facility is a relatively new addition to the artist’s possibilities for producing printed artworks via digital means. The development of the technology is a product of the digital revolution that has democratised the opportunity to self-publish. The democratisation has been possible because of the technology’s economic potential to reduce the costs previously incurred through mechanical printing processes such as offset printing. A large percentage of the POD industry caters for book and artist’s book publishing, although there are a growing number of POD facilities that specialise in fine art, digital prints for both artists and publishers.
From the self-publishing artist’s perspective, the process follows a system-based procedure through a set number of options for printing a digital image. These options often include a choice in scale and substrate before remotely uploading the digital image (via the Internet) to a POD facility server. Once stored on the server, the digital image is then downloaded and printed to the previously established print options. Because the digital file can be reproduced and stored indefinitely, the edition size may be left open allowing for further renderings of the digital file at the client’s request – hence print on demand.
The democratisation of digital technology and the marketing potential of the POD facility developed the idea of the ‘personal factory, where you can make almost anything – including electronics, homeware, fashion and furniture’. Consumers in search of bespoke designs can now access digital fabrication technologies through companies such as Anyline , imaterialise, Ponoko and 3DDC using a range of Laser cutting, rapid prototyping, 3D rapid printing and surface coating options.
Although the Print is Dead series does not directly use digital fabrication technology, the artwork shares similarities with the fabrication process as part of the artist-fabricator approach to making. These associations consider the human crafting approach as part of a systematic and automated method to making, by employing the technical skills of others to help realise the work that informs the idea.
Unlike most POD facilities that produce printed images for clients, the facility that I chose for the reproduction of The Print is Dead series use the hand-rendered method of painting as processes to reproduce a digital image.

 

(order272)completed
Fig 3: (order272)completed.jpg Painting produced by Odsan Gallery, China
order542 completed.jpg
Fig 4: (order542)completed.jpg Painting produced by Odsan Gallery, China

 Replica Factory

Figures 3 and 4 are oil painting’s on canvas produced through Odsan Oil Painting Gallery in Dafen, China. The company is one of many in the region that employ academy-trained artists within a factory-line approach to reproduce vast numbers of old master oil paintings. The act of copying great masters’ works by artists has been a continued practice throughout the ages. Conventional practices have often required that artists access the original painting to capture the intricacy, scale and presence of the work. I do not profess to being a master artist – the idea of having a work reproduced in paint that contains none of the traditional precedents for reproduction was what interested me.

More specifically the conventional reproductive process becomes inverted as the facility takes a digitally printed image and reproduces it by hand – in essence the machine and human exchange places. The use of a digital image also highlights the problematic situation of what is being copied and therefore; what is believed to be the original work? If we consider that a digital image is susceptible to scale and colour changes through different computer monitors and print devices then the work becomes less concerned with reproducing a subject but examining a process.

Figure 2 Printed image used by Odsan Gallery to create figure 3
Figure 2 Printed image used by Odsan Gallery to create figure 3

Perpetual Painting

The Odsan Gallery’s reproduction process functions in the same manner as the POD facility when offering a client the possibility of ‘self-publishing’. As previously stated this involves the transfer of a digital image (figure 1) that is rendered to the specifications of the client. Figure 3 was created from a digital print (Figure 2) made from the low resolution digital file (figure 1) that was requested by the Odsan Gallery to create the artwork. In this situation, the rendering is by hand, not restricted to the scale of a print device and can be reproduced in a range of different painting styles. The resulting painting for the Print is Dead series, is a photo-realistic style reproduction of the digital print that was used as the source image for the work. In this instance the reproduction of the source image contains a magenta hue produced by the printing of the digital file.
The inclusion of the colour cast in the painting is not seen as a fault with the reproductive artwork but as a reminder of the parameters of the tools and processes we use. In his article The Aesthetics of Failure, the American composer Kim Cascone discusses the positive outcome of imperfection:

‘Indeed failure has become a prominent aesthetic in many of the arts in the late 20th century, reminding us that our control of technology is an illusion, and revealing digital tools to be only as perfect, precise, and efficient as the humans who build them’. (K. Cascone, “Post-Digital” Tendencies in Contemporary Computer Music’. Computer Music Journal, Volume 24 Issue 4, 2000, p.12)

Figure’s 4 and 5 are painting’s also created from photographic sources although these photo’s are taken by the Odsan Gallery to show the client the painted image before posting the actual canvas. In essence the photos are proofs that need to be approved by the artist/client before the next stage can be implemented. By photographing the painting and e-mailing the digital image for approval a perpetual system for further paintings is developed. These approval photos are then used as the source image for the next painting and so on and so forth. Despite the absence of print production in the appearance of the paintings, the association with the reproductive process is embedded within to the content of the work. The possibility of an indefinite number of copies remains, although the reproductive endeavour is one of human automation or human printers.

Figure 5: Paul Laidler (order547)completed.jpg, Painting produced by Odsan Gallery, China
Figure 5: Paul Laidler (order547)completed.jpg, Painting produced by Odsan Gallery, China

Ray Kinsella

Ray Kinsella
Paul Laidler, Ray Kinsella, 2010

‘The model is an in between form, it shifts between disciplines’
Ian Kiaer, 2009

EDITION INFO:

EDITION SIZE: 20
IMAGE DIMENSIONS: W 45 cm x H 45 cm
SUBSTRATE DIMENSIONS: W 55 cm x H 55 cm
MEDIUM: Pigmented Inkjet Print
SUBSTRATE: Hahnemuhle photorag
PRICE: £250

 

Ray Kinsella (played by Kevin Costner in the 1989 film Field of Dreams), a crop farmer, is walking through his field one evening where he hears a voice uttering the words ‘If you build it, he will come’. After pondering the meaning of the words, Kinsella decides to construct a baseball pitch in his cornfield despite the financial risks to his farm and family. Not completely sure why he is making the pitch the compulsion to do so outweighs any thoughts of purpose for, or economic return from the pitch. The compulsion to make has many parallels with art and its intended function (to be received by an audience). Towards the end of the film the baseball pitch becomes an attraction as it is deemed that ‘people will come’. Ray Kinsella was the first text piece that initiated the Build it and they will come project, and as with the film character Ray Kinsella, the work had no intended audience, it was just a feeling that something had to be realised. The realisation was due to the fact that for the idea to function as an artwork, it had to be more than an idea. As an idea the words ‘build it and they will come’ remained a solitary and silent voice. For the idea to be ‘heard’ the text requires audience participation, therefore the work refers to itself as an object for exhibition – to physically exist in a space where ‘people will come’.

Ray Kinsella was produced as part of the series of artworks Build it and they will come; a collaboration between myself and the artist Brendan Reid that refers to architectural practice within a fine art context. The work contains a series of four quotes that have architectural connotations and are printed using rapid prototyping technology to create three dimensional, text-based objects. The three dimensional printing process is used as device to create a series of self-referential dialogues within the work.

For example the three-dimensional printed text of Sol LeWitt’s statement “The idea becomes a machine that makes the art” (Sol LeWitt (1928-2007), in “Paragraphs on Conceptual Art”, Artforum, Summer issue, 1967) refers to both idea and process. Here the rapid prototyping process is used for its industrial function – as a machine that produces prototypes rather than creating final artworks. The technology is commonly used in architectural practices to produce concept models/ ideas, which makes the three-dimensional printing device essentially an ‘ideas machine’. In this instance the machine becomes an idea that makes the art. Reid and I share a mutual interest in the oscillation of two-dimensional and three-dimensional graphic forms, and we approach this from both perspectives. The fine art context emanates from collaborative practice in art and the ensuing self-referential play between image and object, process and idea.

From these dual perspectives Ray Kinsella exists as a series of artworks that include 3D and 2D printing methods. The marriage of these two spatial and graphic concerns is alluded to through the photographic recording of the 3D print, both upon and within a 2D printed surface (see illustration). With this in mind photography is not used as a means to objectively document the physical work. Instead the photographic recording is indicative of a ‘photosculpture’ that utilises the inherent qualities of photography to recreate the sculptural form anew.

 

Roombeek Series

Title: Roombeek Series, 2009 (9 images making one work)
Edition: 10
Price: £150 (per image)
Medium: Light jet print on Kodak Endura paper mounted on aluminium and bonded onto 5mm clear Perspex acrylic.
Scale: Individual image size w 29.7cm x h 19.8cm
Set of nine presentation size w 99cm x h 68.5cm

 

The following text is taken from an interview that I did about the series. The interviewer represented an online art website which now doesn’t appear to exist anymore.

 

Do you have a name for your ‘house series’?

Roombeek series I guess! – The Roombeek is the name of the area in Enschede, The Netherlands, where the photos were taken.

What prompted you to create these photographs?

The ideas that inform the work are mostly rooted in the appearance of reality. It is often said that today’s media saturated culture has created a new reality where the image has replaced the reality that it once described. Examples of this cultural phenomenon could be described as experiencing a real life situation that appears more like a movie, or being disillusioned by a holiday destination that didn’t quite live up to its image representation from the brochure.

With this in mind and being an avid peruser of architecture magazines, walking amongst the Roombeek houses felt very much like reading those same printed pages. Obviously the structures were real in this instance but at the same time they still retained an image quality (it was almost like they were made to be images).

The creation of these photographs (amongst other things) was therefore, to continue thinking about the ‘image world’ phenomenon, whilst enjoying the decisions involved in the making experience – something that can be overlooked if you don’t get out much.

Can you describe your process for making these pictures? How do you scout out a location, etc? (Also, if you don’t mind me asking, is any of it photoshopped?)

The work utilises ideas concerning familiarity where the subject matter (eventually combined with its presentation) invokes a mediated presence as opposed to ‘the original’ source. I stumbled across this particular bit of the Roombeek area purely by chance during a visit to The Netherlands earlier this year. This was partly due to a group of tourists blocking the cycle lane during a frenzied photo session of the surrounding buildings. Tourists photographing ‘attractions’ is generally a good sign that I might be interested in what they are looking at. Normally I have to see what something looks like as a photograph first. However, no matter how relevant the actual subject may be to the concept, if the recorded reality does not have a certain quality (as a printed image) then it’s not worth continuing with.
After noting the location I cycled back the following day to begin taking photos.

Process for making a Roombeek series:

1. Park ‘dutch bicycle’ somewhere with easy access (you never know).

2. Return to the tourist location and begin shooting (with a camera).

3. View recorded images on camera display ensuring image quality parameters for acceptable print quality.

4. Cycle to campus (that your working at during this period) and print digital files checking acceptability of print quality.

5. Mount the prints on to a card backing, cut and leave to dry (go to pub).

6. Return to location (the proceeding day) with printed images and tripod.
7. Realise you didn’t bring the camera, so return to the campus, pick up camera and cycle back to location.

8. Park in the now ‘usual spot’ (remembering to lock the bike this time) choose a printed image then find its actual location.

9. With camera mounted on the tripod, hold the printed building image in front of real building, thus obscuring the real building’s actuality.

10. Don’t try and be overly precise, its not supposed to be a hyper-real image but rather, suggestive of the reality theory.

11. Repeat the process until all prints have been photographed and then head back to campus – in anticipation.

12. Open images on a computer, re-scale the file dimensions so that the hand in each image is life-size.

13. With no Photoshop manipulation required go ahead and print what you believe to be the best nine images.

14. Mount the nine images (similar to previous mounting method) and then exhibit prints in a 3 x 3 grid formation, thus mimicking the rectangle of a photograph whilst accentuating the formalistic qualities of the buildings.

What inspires your work? Are there any particular artists who are real influences to you?

I think I probably find things interesting rather than inspirational. On a similar note, I once got detention at school in a religious studies class for insisting that I didn’t have a role model!

Having said that I do have a piece of writing that I always transfer from notebook to notebook. It’s an extract entitled ‘Why I go to the movies alone’ by the artist Richard Prince

“The first time he saw her, he saw her in a photograph. He had seen her before, at her job, but there she didn’t come across or measure up anywhere near as well as she did in her picture. Behind her desk she was too real to look at […] He had to have her on paper, a material with a flat seamless surface […] a physical location which could represent her resemblance all in one place […] a place that had the chances of looking real, but a place that didn’t have any specific chances of being real”