Do Androids dream of print?

Fiery the Angels Fell 3
John Ford, Fiery the Angels Fell, 2015 (Screen Print)

This year was the first year CFPR Editions (officially) awarded a UWE (University of the West of England) graduate print prize. I had been thinking about involving more graduates within the editions practice after writing an article on MiAL (Made in Arts London) and their promotion of UAL graduate artwork at Art Fairs. To coincide with these thoughts I have also (more recently) become part of the lecturing team on the MA Printmaking at UWE – so collectively it would appear that the print moons were aligned for such a prize to happen. Previous UWE (unofficial prize winning) graduates have included Carolyn Bunt (MA Printmaking) and Arthur Buxton (BA Illustration). The CFPR Editions prize offers a graduate the opportunity to be represented by CFPR Editions at Art Fairs and associated exhibitions. The award goes to the graduate who’s practice exhibits a contemporary approach to printmaking and engages with a technological theme that underpins the curatorial premise that I put in place for CFPR Editions. The 2015 CFPR Editions Prize was won by UWE MA Multi-Disciplinary Printmaking graduate John Ford.

Ford’s practice embraces traditional printmaking and photography with three dimensional and computer aided elements.  His work uses simple materials to build models based on sets from dystopian films such as Lars Von Trier’s Element of Crime and (in this instance) Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner.  Ford’s capture method involves taking photographs of his models and re-photographing them on a laptop screen, distorting the imagery and creating distance between the viewer and subject.  Through these processes the work explores themes around reality, illusion and distortion and contemplate a world seen increasingly through television and computer screens.

The work combines hand produced elements with technologically derived imagery, which is important to Ford’s use of different processes and his conceptual approach. The film Blade Runner deals with many of the themes that Ford is interested in, such as questioning the moral implications of advanced technology. The title for the print, Fiery the Angels Fell, is a distortion of a poem by William Blake, where the original line reads: ‘fiery the angels rise’, and is spoken by one of the replicants in the film.  The replicants challenge what it is to be human and can only be identified as such through the Voight-Kampff test.  Ford explains that he wanted to re-create some of the ambiguity and atmosphere of uncertainty present in Blade Runner by playing with the perception of scale in the final print.

The model for the print was made using balsa wood and tissue paper and was lit from inside the structure.  The image is screen printed to capture some of the moire effects caused by re-photographing the photograph of the model from the laptop screen.  The screen printed image allowed Ford to methodically mix his own colours based upon the degraded colours of an old CRT screen and achieve a specific muted aged technological effect that we might associate with surveillance.

Will be adding John to The CFPR Editions site soon and if you are heading to the Multiplied Art Fair (Christies, London) this year then you will get to see the real thing.