Scape Project

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Neeta Madahar and Jo Lansley, Scape 2007

Collaborative Print Studio Project:
In 2007 I worked with the artist Neeta Madahar (represented by Purdy Hicks Gallery, London) on a two month long project that comprised of practices relating to photography, performance and printmaking. The collaborative project proposed by artists Neeta Madahar and Jo Lansley brought together their practices in photography and performance, the latter was led by Lansley and the photographic documentry component was undertaken by Madahar. The development of a print edition with the two artists discussed a number of image generation possibilities before deciding to focus on a recent project that they had undertaken that would be exhibited in Paris later that year. To begin the project Madahar brought a selection of 5 x 4 colour negatives to the studio that were to be used to begin the digital print project. From the selection, two negatives were chosen to be digitally recorded and enlarged to Madahar’s specifications for the final printed image. The project required two main production phases that included joining the separately photographed images and colour retouching the combined image.

Spate_illustration
Options marked for digital collaging for Scape, 2007

Discussions concerning the marriage of the two digital images towards the creation of a single work examined the possibility of digitally merging the photographic images. The desired outcome was to produce a seamless photographic image rather than a print which had the appearance of a collaged photographic space.

A series of digital collage combinations were discussed and tested prior to printing the file. The initial discussions developed through e-mail correspondence and sketched instructions from Madahar regarding the methods for combining the digital files for a seamless photographic appearance. For an example of this discussion and sketch process see the following image and e-mail copy.Screen shot 2016-03-06 at 14.48.33

From the provisional tests, Madahar felt that the space presented in the image appeared contrived, this was partly due to the fact that the presentation method had not been considered when taking the photographs. After a number of variations were tested, Madahar decided that the separate images may be better presented as a diptych. Madahar referred to the panel works of David Hilliard as an alternative method for combining the separately recorded images.

Hilliard
David Hilliard, Home, Office, Evening, Day. 2006

The combining strategy meant that the images were printed separately although the adjustment methods for the printed proofs were considered collectively. This meant that the two prints had to look as if they were from the same timeframe, so that the quality of light and tonal information appeared consistent.
N_MadaharTo begin matching the tonal information between the two files, a number of colour adjustments were made to large areas of the images before the full-scale proof was produced. The proceeding adjustments made in response to Madahar’s assessment of the full-scale proofing gradually became smaller as the process was refined to specific locations of the image. The refinements to the smaller areas were proofed in strip sections to be compared with the previously full-scale printed image.
Madahar was only present in the studio on three occasions throughout the duration of the project, so in order to manage the studio time effectively, the proofed sections were printed ready for Madahar’s inspection on each visit. To manage the large number of printed proofs, each printed strip was labelled with information documenting the date, print parameters and Photoshop™ adjustment methods.

Neetah
P. Laidler & N. Madahar 2007

Recorded with traditional Photography formats, the digital rendering of Scape enables the work to traverse the fields of photography, painting and printmaking. The increase in scale of the 5 x 4 photographic image draws parallels with the scale of paintings, whilst the magnification of the colour negatives’ grain adds a painterly appearance to the surface of the photographic image. Together with the soft, matt-printed surface, the photographic image reflects printmaking’s interests in surface quality and the physicality of ink on paper.
The photographic recordings of the tableaux environments together with the image adjustments for the Scape image share similarities with digital retouching methods used in the fashion-advertising industry, for example tonal and colour adjustments used to enhance the appearance of an image. The two retouching methods only begin to differ in relation to the production and parameters of the printed artefact. Within a fashion context, retouching is often confined to a screen-based image and determined by the parameters of mass production printing for magazines and advertising displays.
Within a fine art print context, the retouching methods are intrinsically linked to the physicality of the image surface and the digital rendering of the image as a limited edition fine art print. The production process is also susceptible to the varying changes that are brought about through the artist’s decision making process.

Typo Topography Project

Philadelphia Museum of Modern Art, 2012
The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass), by Marcel Duchamp 1915 -1923. Photo taken at Philadelphia Museum of Modern Art, 2012

Collaborative Print Studio Project:

I have always had a fascination with copies, reproductions, facsimilies, replica’s, translations and multiples in the visual art’s (and beyond). Perhaps an obvious link as to why I work in print. Anyway a few years ago I was incredibly fortunate to work on a fine art digital print edition with the late artist Richard Hamilton who (at the time) had created a digital drawing of Duchamp’s Large Glass work. More specifically Hamilton had constructed a graphic representation or ‘blue print’ of Duchamp’s image to be printed at a 1:1 scale.

For this project post I’m not going to discuss the printing of the file (you can find out more about the printing element in Chapter 5 in my thesis here), instead I want to discuss the reproductive procedures that Hamilton employed in the ‘remaking’ of Duchamp’s Large Glass – Painting / Sculpture.

Reproducing Procedures:

Prior to the generation of the digital file, Richard Hamilton had collaborated with Marcel Duchamp between 1957 and 1965-6 towards the translation and reconstruction of Duchamp’s sculptural piece The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass), 1915 -1923. In 1957, together with the art historian George Heard Hamilton, Richard Hamilton began translating Duchamp’s notes from The Green Box (1934) into English, which were later published by Hamilton as The Green Book in 1960.

In 1965 Hamilton, aided by Duchamp, began a reconstruction of The Bride Stripped bare by her Bachelors for a Duchamp retrospective Hamilton would curate for the (then) Tate Gallery in 1966. The reconstruction was aided by the fact that Duchamp’s sculpture was too fragile to travel from its permanent installation in the Philadelphia Museum of Modern Art, USA.

The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass) 1915-23, reconstruction by Richard Hamilton 1965-6 at Tate Modern
The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass) 1915-23, reconstruction by Richard Hamilton 1965-6. Tate Modern Exhib June 2010 States of Flux: Cubism, Futurism, Vorticism, Marcel Duchamp and Richard Hamilton.
reconstruction by Richard Hamilton 1965-6.
Sieves reconstruction by Richard Hamilton 1965-6. Tate Modern Exhib States of Flux: Cubism, Futurism, Vorticism, Marcel Duchamp and Richard Hamilton, June 2010.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hamilton’s reconstruction took around a year to complete, prior to being signed by Duchamp at the opening of the exhibition in 1966. Using the previously translated notes as a guide, Hamilton sought “to reconstruct procedures rather than imitate the effects of action.” Subsequently the results of Hamilton’s approach does not afford a direct visual copy but a transcription of Duchamp’s making instructions. From this perspective, Hamilton’s reconstruction used the same materials as Duchamp’s Large Glass to replicate the original work rather than copy the effects of age.

The replication of colour in the Sieves for instance, was a system- based procedure using “’time’ and ‘dust’ to produce a transparent pastel colour”. Hamilton later used these kinds of colour descriptions when we were proofing the digital file at CFPR for Typo-Topography of Marcel Duchamp’s Large Glass, 2003, requesting that colours be formulated as ‘chocolate’ or ‘lead’ in reference to Duchamp’s text.  The print allows two separate works to exist together, the text from The Green Book and the image of the sculpture The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass) 1915-23, reconstruction by Richard Hamilton 1965-6.

S. Hoskins, R. Hamilton & P. Laidler at the the CFPR 2003
S. Hoskins, R. Hamilton & P. Laidler at the the CFPR 2003
Typo-Topography of Marcel Duchamps Large Glass.
Inkjet Print of Typo-Topography of Marcel Duchamps Large Glass.
Illustrator file of the Sieves section
Illustrator file of the Sieves section

 

Layering space

Jack Youngblood, Spate, 2003, Inkjet Print
Jack Youngblood, Spate, 2003, Inkjet Print

Collaborative Print Studio Project:

Going back some years with this print studio collaboration, and although inkjet technology has advanced somewhat I believe the projects sentiments are still valid: Thinking through making and working outside of industrially defined print parameters.

In 2003 I worked as the Master Printer on a residency program that was organised by the CFPR as part of an AHRC research funded project. The Master Printer role also extended to the reviewing of residency applications, which is when I came across Jack Youngblood’s work.  Highlighted as an artist who would advance the CFPR’s knowledge for generating digital images were evident in the virtuoso qualities of his submitted work. Youngblood’s practice was originally based in painting before developing over a number of years towards digital processes. Because of this incremental development, and his experience with digital technology, Youngblood’s practice had now become based in digital technology whilst referring outwardly to other disciplines such as painting and photography.

The Exhausted Spaceman, 2003 with sketches and notes for the digital alterations of
The Exhausted Spaceman, 2003 with sketches and notes for the digital alterations of

The initial discussions for the printing of the Spate image took place during the production of The Exhausted Spaceman. Having made relatively swift progress with the printing of The Exhausted Spaceman there were a few days of the residency remaining for us to try proofing the Spate image. Prior to our work on the Spate project, Youngblood had described his disappointment with the lack of tonal depth in the darkest areas of the image in his previous attempts to print the digital file. This, I believed, was partly due to using a cotton-based paper, although Youngblood was insistent that this was the paper that was to be used for this image. The specific printed realisation for the Spate image had been put on hold until the technology either improved or a solution was found.

Youngblood’s original image for Spate was based on a traditional oil painting by Jacob van Ruisdael from c.1660, housed in the collection of Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery. The elements that contribute to the composition of Youngblood’s image are obvious on comparison in the following images.

Above left: A River in Spate, Jacob van Ruisdael (1629-1682), oil on canvas, c.1660 Above right: Spate, Jack Youngblood, digital print, 2003
Above left: A River in Spate, Jacob van Ruisdael (1629-1682), oil on canvas, c.1660
Above right: Spate, Jack Youngblood, digital print, 2003

The clouds are replaced by a black, star-filled sky, generated in Photoshop™ with the aid of some celestial charts. The house in van Ruisdael’s painting has become the space module (downloaded from the Internet), which has been integrated with a range of land details from photos of actual moon missions, in particular Apollo 16. The surrounding cliff profile was kept as close as possible to the original painting’s view, with the river and trees transformed into rock formations. Each of these landscape elements was created in Bryce, a three-dimensional landscaping and animation programme. The software and its capabilities were best equipped to deal with the metamorphosis from one form to the other.

As with The Exhausted Spaceman, Youngblood had created a hugely complex image comprising of a mixture of imported files and generated components made within and outside the programme (see following selection of screen grabs from the process).

four of the 50 screen grabs from the process for Jack Youngblood’s Spate, 2003
four of the 50 screen grabs from the process for Jack Youngblood’s Spate, 2003

Prior to Youngblood’s residency, the CFPR had been experimenting with the possibility of multi-pass printing on a wide format inkjet printer. This required mechanically adapting the printer’s industrially designed function as a single pass printing device. The adaptation meant that the printer would be able to layer a succession of individually printed colours on top of one another, creating colours that could not ordinarily be achieved through the single pass process. The initial CFPR experiments concerned layering areas of flat colour on top of one another using a pin registration system (as used with traditional printmaking) that allowed for the specific placement of colour within the space of the paper. Although the multi-pass printing method had not been used for photographic imagery up until this point, I believed that the printing method would lend itself to solving the issues and concerns that Youngblood had with rendering his digital file for Spate as a printed artwork.

Production of Spate, printing in two separate layers, 2003
Production of Spate, printing in two separate layers, 2003

The needs of the artist and the project:

The hybrid multi-pass method that was used for the Spate image added a further dimension to Youngblood’s usual digital proofing strategy. The Spate print was created by separately printing two images with one image printed on top of the other. This method is similar to traditional printmaking techniques such as screenprint or lithography, where the separate layers do not work in isolation. The success of this process in digital print depends on the tonal and colour alterations made in Photoshop™- proofing through printing, and then subjectively assessing the quality of the work.

The final decision can only be made through the printing of both layers and the physical relationship that these layers have with one another.  Proofing through looking at the image on a monitor does not offer enough information to make the final decision. The proofing of one image printed in this way was time consuming and required some ability to predict what one particular adjustment would produce once the second layer had been added.

Corrections in Photoshop™ for Spate, 2003
Corrections in Photoshop™ for Spate, 2003

Observations towards forming the collaborative strategy

Throughout the residency Youngblood worked intensely at the computer for long periods of time. This intensity was equally matched when revising the printed proofs, as Youngblood would produce sketches and notes of the digital alterations that were needed prior to returning to the image on the computer screen. The production of Spate was by no means straightforward, as the process was essentially new territory for both the artist and the CFPR studio. The proofing of the image in this way was time consuming and required plenty of speculative thinking when pondering how an adjustment to one of the Spate files would render within the double-pass printed image.

During the production of the Spate print, Youngblood and I discussed how the physical layering of ink on paper would dictate Youngblood’s adjustment methods and the successful blending of the two files as a printed image. For example, the order in which the files were printed, ink-drying time between printing, and airing of the paper prior to printing all played a significant role in ensuring that the two prints registered with one another.

The realisation of the Spate print was achieved through the assessment of Youngblood’s aspirations for the work, the utilisation of a bespoke digital printing method and the collaborative development of the process for a specific image. The Spate print was a particular project that pushed the boundaries of the CFPR’s knowledge and digital print methods, and was the closest to a collaboration of shared knowledge rather than a division of labour or simply technical assistance. The project started with a focus, a shared goal rather than pure experimentation.

Human Automation

Laidler, P. (2011) Human automation. Printmaking Today, 20 (4). p. 28. ISSN 0960 9253

The article Human Automation describes a practice based series of artworks that explore the print on demand model as a means to comment  the boundaries of print practice and how process is intrinsic to content.

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The Printed Reality

caprintmaker1

Laidler, P. (2011) The Printed reality exhibition curated by Paul Laidler. The California Printmaker: The Journal of the California Society of Printmakers. pp. 15-17.

Article Intro:

The generation of this article was originally developed as a photographic print series that responded to the title Boarders of Perception. The title originated from the name of an international university exchange event that I attended in Enschede, Holland in 2008. The work produced during the 2 week long event sought to bring together the photographic image, the printed artefact and their representation within a location based contexts. Thereafter I explored the idea of capturing printed images within different environments as a curated online exhibition by inviting other practitioners that were adopting similar approaches.

 

Curated Flickr group, The Printed Reality
Printed Reality Exhibition
Printed Reality Exhibition

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Printed Reality Exhibit, Impact 6 Printmaking (2009)

The resulting collection of images entitled The Printed Reality was also realised as a physical exhibition at the Impact 6 Printmaking conference in Bristol. Dissemination of both the online and physical exhibition caught the attention of the Printeresting group (The thinking person’s favorite resource for interesting print miscellany) who were guest editing  The California Printmaker journal and thought the exhibition idea would be an interesting article.

The California Printmaker, Printed Reality article page example
The California Printmaker, Printed Reality article page example

Exhibition Premise used for the article went like this:

The invention and subsequent development of the printed image has changed the way in which we learn, see and describe the world around us. Our preoccupation with viewing the world through its image has created an environment of two-dimensional projections unfolding from three-dimensional beginnings. Within the Printed Reality group the interplay between image and object is not a seamless transition but one of artifice, theatre. Here the recorded image functions as a backdrop, a stage prop positioned and presented in such a manner that we are readerly accepting of its fictional role. The performance emanates through the recording of edges and folds, casting both shadows and omitting reflections from an external world, a reality not of our own but somewhat more representative of our own. The Printed Reality Exhibition presents photographic images by seven different artists within a gallery instillation setting. The exhibition was conceived as a format for considering the relationship between print and the Internet in the era of Photography 2.0. The overlapping of the electronic image and printed presentation in The Printed Reality exhibition draws upon further associations with the use of digital platforms as a means to disseminate physical artefacts within museums, galleries and educational institutions.

UWE Repository link to full article here

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