Finally started to make again! In January this year I was invited to be the guest artist in printmaking at the University of Texas at Austin. During this time I began working in the fabrication department with Professor Eric McMaster (Lecturer, University of Texas at Austin; Manager, Digital Fabrication Lab) to create a laser cut matrix. The laser cut tests are part of a body of work that aims to bring together ideas associated with ‘Remake’ and physical making approaches that align with Post-digital practices. The image above entitled After Clement Valla was constructed at UWE to begin visualising some of my ideas for the series.
Partners in Print: Exhibitions & Editions
Over the past few months (perhaps a bit longer) I have been discussing the idea of a UWE graduate print editioning / studio practice with Spike Print Studio in Bristol. The two organisations already share existing links through scholarships and professional practice internships such as the Peter Reddick Bursary, the SPS/UWE Scholarship and SPS/UWE Member Technician award. The proposed print editioning venture intends to build upon these relationships by utilising the multifaceted nature of the print studio – as a bridge between professional and educational practices. More over, the intention of the exhibition is to begin highlighting the commonalities that exist through multi-participatory (SPS) and multi-disciplinary (UWE) studio practice. As previously mentioned the aim will be to forge a print editioning practice between SPS and UWE that will complement existing relationships and extend the scope for professional practices that are predicated in print. The exhibition will therefore highlight stories from alumni who have experience of both educational and professional studio practice – and present these as written and visual narratives within an exhibition context.
The exhibition will take place at UWE’s Bower Ashton Studios in the F-Block Gallery from Tuesday 16th to Friday 19th October 2018 (gallery opening times 10am – 5pm). Private View Thursday 18th at 5.00pm
Participating artists will include:
Nick Greenglass and John Lynch (Peter Reddick Bursary)
Andrew Wilson (SPS/UWE Scholarship)
Jemma Gunning, Lisa Davies and Prerna Chandiramani (SPS/UWE Member Technician)
Carolyn Bunt, Sarah Duncan, Frea Buckler and Gilly Thompson. (UWE/SPS Alumni)
Laidler, P. (2018) Printed Conversations & Collaborative Undertakings, g&e Print and Art Edition Magazine (www.grabadoyedicion.com), ISSUE 60, pp 30-43 ISSN 1886-2306
Recently wrote some words for the Madrid based Print and Art Editions Magazine g&e. The article reflects on conversations that I have had with a number of artists about the impact of digital technology on physical practice(s) in the graphic arts. All conversations were developed as part of collaborative studio production at the CFPR. The work enabled the artists and myself to produce a series of digitally mediated print editions that revealed the inner workings of realising ideas in print. The studio work and conversations also formed the curatorial premise behind the Just Press Print exhibition that traveled around the USA between 2016-18.
Traditionally when a print studio approaches an artist about producing a print edition, the studio director or master printer would often show the artist a process, material or tool that they may not have encountered before. This technically-led approach can sometimes offer a different, new or novel option for the artist, and is often considered to be the main collaborative contribution of the print editioning studio. The collaborative print studio model has been adopted at The Centre for Fine Print Research (CFPR), part of the University of the West of England, as a method to explore processes and methodologies associated with creative and applied practices in print. As a researcher, printer and publisher at the CFPR the print studio (as research space) is an ideal setting to initiate practice related dialogues that are predicated in print. This approach has been central to my research inquiries and subsequent curatorial considerations when unearthing insights that are unique to the act of making. More specifically, the introduction of digital technologies within this environment helped forge a curatorial premise and selection of artists for the exhibition Just Press Print.
Laidler, P (2017) Collaborative Print Studio, g&e Print and Art Edition Magazine (www.grabadoyedicion.com), ISSUE 55, pp 27 – 40 ISSN 1886-2306.
The article Collaborative Print Studio in the March 2017 edition of the ‘g & e Print and Art Edition Magazine’ discusses the concept of the master printer and the collaborative model within the discipline of Printmaking. These precedents are then described in relation to the introduction of digital technologies and the development of a specialist digital print studio that I initiated at the Centre For Fine Print Research (UWE) in 2013.
The collaborative print studio has had profound impact upon the production and realisation of some of the most innovative prints within the discipline of fine art printmaking. Historically an artist with little understanding of the print process or access to print facilities could seek the technical knowledge and craft sensibilities from a master printer. In some instances, these unique collaborative pursuits redefined production methods and push the boundaries of what was previously thought possible. These historical precedents have been established through mechanical modes of production and have contributed to defining the roles, expectations, production, publication and artisanship of the collaborative print studio.
Complete text can be viewed on the UWE Repository
Looking through the eyes of machines as humans is a publication that has been developed and produced by myself as part of an academic role at UWE. The publication was initiated as part of an international student exchange exhibition between The University of the West of England, Bristol and The Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, USA. The article Mapping a Mental Change: Beginnings and departure points is a subtext to the publication title and exhibition theme. The article was written in response to one of the questions that I asked each of the participating students. The slightly re-framed question heads the proceeding text below and the full publication can be found on issuu.
It has been suggested that digital technologies have brought technical innovations to the field of graphic arts practice, but have also and most importantly, have provoked a ‘mental change’ in the creative process. As a
student lecturer within a graphic arts field do you believe this statement to be true and if so could you offer any insights on what this ‘mental change’ could be?
It has been suggested by a range of established commentators that digital technology may have potentially created a ‘mental change’ within the creative process of making images and objects. Although this statement is somewhat broad and our ability to understand change often requires a certain amount of time to have passed (before the significance of an event may be better understood) the compulsion to begin considering these ruminations became central to the ‘Looking Through The Eyes Of Machines As Students’ project.
My interest in this area stem from a practice-based perspective within the field of graphic arts, leaning towards the process-led discipline of printmaking. The root of this inquiry has predominantly developed through my teaching experience in the graphic arts, and what it means to think through an established discipline in a technological age of multifaceted practice and outcomes.
To shed some light on this idea of a ‘mental change’ or a shift in consciousness we may consider the historical impact of printmaking on communication. The process enabled access to – and storage of – information on an unprecedented scale, one that would go on to revolutionise how we understood, saw and described the world. Digital technology has further extended the proliferation possibilities of the printed artefact and offered attributes such as computational speed, interactivity and networked content.
Within a visual arts context the early incarnations of a digital presence can often be identified through the technology’s associated aesthetic. These visual cues refer to the construction of images and artefacts through the use of pixels or in a 3D environment, the voxel. Today the former tends to invoke a retro feel with a nostalgic outlook whereas the revealing of the digital building blocks in glitch art (where an image is purposely degraded or corrupted) promotes an aestheticisation of malfunction in a slick and seamless image world. For the majority of people who were born in the pre-digital period these image associations were originally encountered on screen as far back as the 1980s. The period is often referred to as the ‘digital revolution’, when the technology became mainstream and entered our visual consciousness with the first personal computers. The proceeding years would see advancements in graphic user interfaces, design software packages followed by output devices such as the desktop printer. The connecting of hardware and software tools alongside affordability provided a framework for artists and designers to begin extending mechanical production methods and establish a screen-based environment for art and design disciplines.
These technological possibilities describe some of the inherent qualities that digital tools offer, yet it is not how we technically master these tools that concerns me. Instead it is the consequences of how these tools permeate into our thinking as makers and provide some clues about this ‘mental change’… perhaps!
In more recent years the relationship with digital technology has seen a return to the physical and tactile. This development is epitomised in schemes such as ‘The Internet of Things’ that seeks to create applications for real world objects by augmenting and connecting them with the Internet. Projects that fall within this area tend to foster design-led questions that create new products for an ever-increasing digital market place. The approach is predominantly utopian in its outlook and nurtures a kind of homecoming that could be considered as a humanising of digital technology. Work of this nature also falls within a post-digital period where we have overcome the shock of digital technology as a disruptive force and are now indifferent to whether or not something is digital or physical. Conversely being ‘post’ something also foregrounds a period of self-reflexivity and questioning about ‘progress’ under the previous regime. This is not necessarily an anti-digital movement but rather a place where ideas arise from a digitally-informed scene.
Post-digital work can be found in a return to the physical through augmentation but there are also post-digital persuasions that do not necessarily subscribe to the technologically enabled mind-set. The opposing route is perhaps best summarised in the shift of questioning from ‘what can I do/’, to ‘why am I doing this?’. One example of a slightly more critical view of technology that consists of digitally informed practitioners is the Internet Yami-Ichi group. Internet Yami-Ichi (that translates from Japanese as ‘black market’) is a small art/flea market showcasing online and digital themes that have been translated into physical works with a dystopian edge. The event essentially flips the ‘Internet of Things’ and its utopian outlook on its head. Internet Yami-Ichi provokes critical reflection on our ever-increasing digital dependencies by employing humour, uselessness and absurdity to draw attention to the darker side of the Internet. The Japanese word Yami literally translates as ‘dark side’ and can also mean “sick for” or “addicted to”. Productions from the market’s vendors include; bottled Mac Book Air ‘air’, Internet explorer tattoos, handwritten spam letters and binary porn, to name but a few. The outlook is one that seeks to make work that asks questions rather than designing products that provide answers.
Mediating the Mediated:
Similar critical reflections on today’s increasingly digitally-mediated world are touched upon in the 2015 exhibition Mut Mut curated by Illustration academics Darryl Clifton and Rachel Gannon. The curators considered the illustration industry’s predominant mode of reception through print and screen as the departure point for the exhibition. The curatorial decision to deliberately fabricate one-off, bespoke or sculptural pieces in a temporal and spatial setting, sought to discard industry-driven formats and re-consider communicative relationships with its audience. Similarly the conscious decision to adopt a visual language that engages with craft and materiality questions why we would continue to make physical things in an age of automation and dematerialisation? From this perspective, digital technology has helped reinvigorate traditional crafts by allowing us to re-evaluate their significance – as a carrier and conveyor of information.
Although the exhibition still relies upon digital dissemination (cause I wouldn’t have known about it otherwise) the nature of documenting work for online platforms has begun to influence the making of an actual artefact or event. For this type of practitioner, the question ‘does it look good online’ is far more likely to be considered at a much earlier stage in the making process. Here the selection of materials and colours are based upon the image’s success onscreen whilst the designing of situation and presentation may yield greater coverage and dissemination for the work. Today’s preoccupation with the screen-based representation and sharing of imagery via social media has (to some degree) become a testing ground for the success of the physical/original. This feedback loop appears to have usurped the original work and its aura, or like the Mut Mut curators, this maybe a timely opportunity to unplug and ‘reconnect’!
The Nimble Digital:
The manipulability of digital information is probably one of the defining qualities of the technology. Sean Cubitt (Professor in Media and Communications at Goldsmiths University, London) considers the new possibilities for rendering digital information as a pivotal shift between analogue and digital processes. Cubitt explains that from the standpoint of the computer, any input will always appear as mathematical and any data can be output in any format. For example an audio input can be output as a video image, as text, as a 3D model or a printed artefact. The ability to render information in numerous ways shifts from a fixed analogue system (that dictates the treatment of information for a specific process and therefore limits the outcome) to a situation where information is supple and has potential to instantly shift into different spaces, materials and disciplines.
This situation also offers some potentially interesting positions on established art and design disciplines – especially when considering their associations with materials and artefacts. For instance, historically within art and design the connotation of the word ‘material’ refers to the physicality of something that has a direct relationship with the hand, and a traditional dialogue with craft. In a digital context the word could also prompt conversations where ‘material’ is discussed as information, albeit an immaterial material – where physical touch becomes a haptic interface and craft extends to programming. Similarly, the rendered outcome of digital information questions traditional associations with, and expectations of products and artefacts that are attributed to a specific discipline. For example, if the entire cohort of a printmaking degree suddenly began producing films, one might wonder why they would choose to study printmaking and not film? This does not mean that film is off limits to printmakers but like it or not, disciplines exist for a reason – namely specialism, heritage and disposition.
In essence, digital technology has predominantly been utilised as a tool for optimising existing processes and later extending the boundaries of established practices. Digital technology is a medium (that differs from all others) and facilitates new forms of communication and interaction that change how we think. This is epitomised in Marshall McLuhan’s famous quote on the impact of new technology where he stated, “First we shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us”. The interesting questions begin when we attempt to describe the disposition of a technologically-informed individual who may extend established practice or offer a complete departure from it.
Perhaps some of the technologically-informed characteristics of these individuals may engender the ubiquitous and connected nature of digital. In this context they would have no problem with working across different disciplines. The approach also resonates with the concept of ‘T-shaped people’, a metaphor mainly used in the recruitment industry (not my best ever reference) that describes individuals who possess a very deep knowledge in one discipline (the vertical bar of the T) but are promiscuous enough to have the grace and confidence to move across disciplines (the horizontal part of the T). The T-shaped person is by no means a new concept; similar attributes can be found as far back as the Renaissance and the idea of the ‘Renaissance Man’ – the example often being the work of Leonardo Da Vinci who could demonstrate a high level of proficiency in a number of different subject areas.
It is also worth noting that the discipline of fine art does not necessarily consign itself to a particular process, medium or outcome – especially since the inception of conceptual art in the early part of the 20th century. The prominence of idea before outcome enables the discipline to actively borrow from and enter into other fields. That said, graphic arts disciplines have, and also do produce conceptually-led and interdisciplinary works, but the field is historically associated with the design industry and the applied nature of this practice.
Today I believe that the vertical bar of deep knowledge is still grounded in an established pre-digital discipline that retains its heritage – and so it should. Increased activity on the horizontal bar is perhaps another indicator that the pervasive nature of digital technology is seeping into the mindsets of graphic arts practitioners where transferability, mutability and something else with ‘ility’ on the end is becoming more predominant with each generation.
The digital version of the Looking through the eyes of machines as students publication is now (and finally) available to view on issuu. The publication includes work from fifteen selected students across three different Graphic Arts based programmes in Art and Design at UWE (University of the West of England, Bristol, UK) and sixteen students from the BFA Printmaking course at MICA (Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, USA). Further information on the project brief and exhibition of the printed artworks can be found in previous posts, such as; Look through the eyes of machines as students, A Bristol Baltimore Print Exchange and Gallery Twenty Two.
The publication also includes fifteen interviews with students from UWE’s BA Illustration, BA Graphic Design and MA Multi-Disciplinary Printmaking programmes. These students were asked a series of questions about their relationship with making, disciplinarity and the impact of technological developments on practice. I have also attempted to elaborate on these themes (as requested from one of the participating students) with a short essay on the final pages of the publication.
The publication is effectively a tangible summary of the student exchange project with MICA, although the outcome provides a benchmark from which future (like minded) activities, opportunities and connections can develop. In this instance the project enabled students to test and develop new process led skills & thinking, connect with other courses in UWE, contribute to a published outcome and exhibit their work in a professional public setting and an international university venue. The project also provided a crossover with my own research activity in the field of print, editions and new technology whilst fostering possible ideas toward a student centred publishing venture. More to follow on this… and yes there will be a printed publication.
* All thirty one students who took part in the project, including UWE’s BA Illustration Olivia Beckett, Tom Handy, Jono Kamester, Steve McCarthy and Willem Purdy; BA Graphic Design Jamie Burns, Eleanor Elliott-Rathbone, Ruth Irvine, Evangelina Anna Papadopoulos and Matilda Scott; MA Printmaking: Stuart Cannell, Nick Greenglass, Judy Lau, Jono Sandilands and Stephanie Turnbull.
* MICA BFA Printmaking includes: Kaitlin Beebe, Amelia Bombace, Evan Christopherson, Kaitlyn Conte, M. McCallum Dickens, Jackson Farley, Alexandra Harmel, Alexandria Henry, Dasom Kim, Ema Koch, Dan Langston, Aida Ramirez, Amber Rhein, Isabel Rosen-Hamilton, Madison Scillian and Morgan Strahorn.
* Jonathan Thomas at MICA for all his help with the collaborative print exchange exhibition.
* Verity Lewis for the publication design.
* Colum Leith and Carol Stevens for assisting with the selection of their Yr 2 Graphic Design students.
* Susan McMillan & Tom Sowden for making UWE funds available toward an external exhibition.
* Victoria Chalmers and Zoe Cox at Gallery Twenty Two for accepting the exhibition.
This April will see an international student print exchange exhibition between MICA (Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, USA) and UWE (University of the West of England, Bristol, UK). Fifteen students from each University were invited to produce a print edition that would examine how technology has expanded conceptual and procedural possibilities for making prints. The exchange exhibition has run in conjunction with the Just Press Print exhibition that has been on show at MICA from 11th Dec 2015 to the 13th March 2016.
The student exchange exhibition will be on show in the USA from 31st March -12th April 2016 and will be hosted by Gallery CA in the city of Baltimore. The reciprocal exhibition in the UK will be exhibited at the University of the West of England in the Bower Ashton Campus, F- Block Gallery from the 4th – 8th April 2016 (P.V. Thursday 7th April, 5pm – 7pm). The exhibition will also be exhibited in the city of Bristol at Gallery Twenty Two from the 22nd – 29th April 2016 (P.V. Friday 22nd April, 5pm – 8pm).
The UK contribution to the group exhibition will bring together UWE students studying at undergraduate and postgraduate level from three different Art and Design disciplines. Print processes include lithography, relief, screenprint, inkjet, digital embroidery and more novel additions to these processes such the integration of a Raspberry Pi LCD Screen (including speaker) mounted behind a screenprinted image. Participating students include:
BA Illustration: Olivia Beckett, Tom Handy, Jono Kamester, Steve McCarthy and Willem Purdy
BA Graphic Design: Jamie Burns, Ruth Irvine, Evangelina Papadopoulos, Eleanor Elliott-Rathbone and Matilda Scott.
MA Printmaking: Stuart Cannell, Nick Greenglass, Judy Lau, Jono Sandilands and Stephanie Turnbull
Click on each thumbnail image to enlarge
To develop a cohesive theme for the group the fifteen invited students from UWE were given a technologically informed brief that would raise questions around a postdigital context for the printed image and how a specific graphic art discipline such as Illustration, Graphic Design or Printmaking may contribute to this discourse. As part of the project students were asked to produce a limited edition of six prints, document their making process and answer three questions that would prompt responses (as makers) to the relationships between concept, context and production. The significance of revealing the contributing factors involved in creating a printed artwork provides an educational component for the exhibition, but the narrative can also be enlightening and surprising in offering insights into the true nature of creative endeavours. The narrative and supporting evidence from these activities will be used to produce a publication of the students work for the exhibition entitled #LookingThroughTheEyesOfMachinesAsStudents.
Participating students from MICA BA Printmaking includes: Kaitlin Beebe, Amelia Bombace, Evan Christopherson, Kaitlyn Conte, M. McCallum Dickens, Jackson Farley, Alexandra Harmel, Alexandria Henry, Dasom Kim, Ema Koch, Dan Langston, Aida Ramirez, Amber Rhein, Isabel Rosen-Hamilton, Madison Scillian and Morgan Strahorn.
Laidler, P (2016) Revisiting Richard Hamilton’s Typo-Topography of Marcel Duchamp’s Large Glass, Print Quarterly, Vol XXXIII / No1, pp 18-26 ISSN 0265-8305
The Journal article Revisiting Richard Hamilton’s Typo-Topography of Marcel Duchamp’s Large Glass in the March 2016 edition of Print Quarterly extends upon a case study from my PhD thesis and comments upon the contribution of the University as a collaborator and publisher of fine art prints.
The production of fine art prints has a longstanding relationship with the collaborative print studio, where artists work together with master printers to realize and produce printed artworks. The collaboration between artist and print studio has predominantly been one of facilitation, where the artist is able to access specialist equipment and technical expertise with the tools, materials and operations of a particular print studio. What this involves and what the relationships are has varied between print studios and even between the master printers of a studio. This article will discuss the production of an inkjet printed edition with the artists Richard Hamilton using the collaborative print studio model within a University setting.
Curated Traveling Exhibition:
The purpose of this curation project is to bring Just Press Print, a cutting-edge group exhibition from the Centre for Fine Print Research (CFPR) at the University of West England, Bristol (UWE, Bristol) to Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore, MD; and to engage local, national, and international audiences through well-rounded academic and public programming. A 16-week undergraduate class, one-day workshop, series of talks and a public lecture at MICA and reciprocal exhibition at UWE, Bristol, will supplement the three and a half month show. Just Press Print is on display in one of MICA’s three main galleries, Meyerhoff Gallery (1,148 square feet), from December 2015 to March 2016. The exhibition will continue to travel in the USA between 2016 – 2017, venues include the School of Art Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, Arizona State; University of Utah, Salt Lake City; University of Wisconsin Madison and University of Texas at Austin before finishing at Museum of Texas Tech University in June 2018.
Just Press Print is an international, traveling group exposition that explores the introduction of 21st century technologies within the predominantly mechanically defined discipline of printmaking. The exhibition will highlight artistic planning, collaborative practices, and the broadening possibilities for the graphic artefact in the digital age. The exhibition includes published prints evolved from collaborations between fourteen carefully selected artists and myself at the Centre for Fine Print Research (CFPR) as part of CFPR Editions. The curitorial premise for the exhibtion and background to the collaborative practice can be found here.
The exhibition draws the attention of the audience to significant, yet often overlooked elements of the printing process. Sketches, correspondence, and draft editions to highlight the importance of the relationship between artist and master printer, the iterations necessary to achieve the final print, and the archiving and recording process accompany the artists’ work. The exhibition also touches upon the evolving nature of digital technology and its potential influence upon established definitions and practices within the field of printmaking. For further insights on the exhibition a preview / interview article was writen by Bruce MCkaig for the What Weekly publication in Baltimore here.
Just Press Print will be supplemented with a 16-week academic course, with workshops, talks and lectures from a visiting artist, and reciprocal exhibition. MICA faculty Robert Tillman and Johnathan Thomas are running an undergraduate class entitled “Print and Technology” to engage students with the subject matter of Just Press Print. Students in the class will use MICA’s state of the art Digital Fabrication Studio to produce their own digital prints. The Digital Fabrication Studio houses 3D printers, laser cutters, computer-controlled milling machines, 3D scanners, and other equipment, and provide students technical support from trained technicians. Student work produced during the course will be curated into a reciprocal exhibition at UWE, Bristol that will include BA Illustration, BA Graphic Design and MA Printmaking. I will visit MICA’s campus to lead a workshop on digital print technology and give a series of talks with a public lecture. Public programs will be free and open to members of the MICA and surrounding community.
Just Press Print features cutting-edge prints that have been exhibited across the world including the Hong Kong Heritage Museum, Mixer Gallery in Istanbul, Christies London and the University of Dundee. The project will provide a forum for raising the public’s awareness of innovative art works and ignite a renewed interest in the art of printmaking. Students will engage with and gain valuable skills in a range of new digital fabrication technologies. Finally, “Just Press Print” will engage professionals in the printmaking field, artists and designers, students and faculty, and art and design enthusiasts.
Intended beneficiaries include MICA students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends; Baltimore City and an extended network of artists, designers, curators, educators, and art patrons across the U.S. Just Press Print’s goal is to engage the public with the possibilities of print in the digital age – aligning with MICA’s commitment and expertise in community engagement. The show dispenses with conventional formats, instead displaying 2D and 3D digital prints along with sketches, notes, email correspondence, and test proofs bundled in bulldog clips that hang informally from the walls. This curatorial approach, which emphasizes the creative process, increases understanding of print practices for artists, academics, students, teachers, and the general public by creating visual narratives for a range of competency levels. Public programming will include an inclusive talk on the iterative and collaborative decision making process.
Participating artists include Carolyn Bunt, Arthur Buxton, Gordon Cheung, Paul Coldwell, Stanley Donwood, Richard Falle, Paul Laidler, Sebastian Schramm, Andrew Super and Roy Voss.
Photography by J. Thomas and P. Laidler
Evidence of presented lectures and talks at MICA can be seen through the links below.
— Paul Laidler (@palaidler) February 12, 2016
— Paul Laidler (@palaidler) February 10, 2016