Where it all began:
The initial idea for the Just Press Print exhibition was inspired some 17 years ago after I attended a print exhibition by a highly acclaimed American artist at a prestigious museum in the USA. The exhibition in question would also later resonate with my research (and teaching) activity around the collaborative studio production by promoting the act of making (that is often dispensed with in conventional exhibitions) through the presentation of proofing stages and matrix iterations.
It therefore appears to be very appropriate that the resulting Just Press Print exhibition should travel back to the country that led me to develop an iterative themed project in the first place. Similarly, the possibility to develop this format within a digital print context enables an audience to gain further insight about the trajectory of an idea and it’s making. 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. For example, if I were to say that seventeen years ago I was in the Metropolitan Museum in New York (whilst thinking I was in the Guggenheim) looking for a sculpture exhibition by Matthew Barney and then accidently wandered into a printmaking exhibition by Chuck Close (that I had no idea was on) offers a more accurate and confessional narrative (although somewhat embarrassing) as to how an idea can, in reality, develop.
Where we are now:
I think it goes without saying that I am extremely pleased that the Just Press Print exhibition will be traveling to the USA (next week), something that couldn’t have happened without the amazing people at MICA. The Maryland Institute College of Baltimore (with whom I have been collaborating on the touring show) will be the first venue for the exhibition. MICA has been incredibly supportive of the project from the initial proposal toward the development of the exhibition that will also be accompanied by a series of talks and workshops across their graphic arts programmes. I am therefore pleased to have been invited to MICA in February 2016 to work with thier graphic arts programmes on a weeklong residency that will coincide with the exhibition. Proceeding venues will include – Arizona State, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts; Dept of Art & Art History, University of Utah; University of Wisconsin-Madison Art Department, School of Education; University of Texas at Austin.
The exhibition will also include a student exchange show between MICA and UWE students working across graphic arts disciplines such as Printmaking, Illustration and Graphic Design. The proposed student exchange brief is still under discussion but I can say that work selected/invited for the exchange will ask students to respond to a technologically informed scene (from a graphic art perspective) or perhaps to quote the writer, speaker, futurist and design instructor Bruce Sterling,
‘There truly are many forms of imagery nowadays that are modern, and unique to this period. We’re surrounded by systems, devices and machines generating heaps of raw graphic novelty’.
I am also pleased to say that there will be a publication that will coincide with the exhibition; something that I hope will be the first of many. The publication entitled ‘Working Proof’ is something that I have previously discussed and its development is therefore seen as means to continue this line of inquiry within the graphic arts. However the first publication will support and catalogue the Just Press Print Exhibition and will subsequently be entitled ‘Working Proof: Featuring Just Press Print’. The first edition can be seen as an extension of my PhD research (the collaborative production and realisation of digital prints with artists) whereas the content will be generated from (more recent) collaborative projects undertaken through CFPR Editions – with artists such as; Stanley Donwood, Gordon Cheung, Andrew Super, Richard Falle and Carolyn Bunt to name but a few. Further insights will draw upon curated exhibitions at Northern Print, Impact 8 and Multiplied alongside funded research with REACT and published studio conversations with Cecilia Mandrile, Andrew Super in g&e and Prof Paul Coldwell in Porto Arte.
The production of the publication will be produced as a newspaper (in keeping with the supporting printed material aesthetic in the exhibition) and whilst I continue to write, photograph and gather content – graphic designer Verity Lewis will be designing the layout and typography.
In case you want to know more about the JPP exhibition:
Just Press Print is an international exposition that highlights artistic planning, collaborative practices, and the
broadening possibilities for the graphic artefact in the digital age. Just Press Print includes published prints produced from collaborations between ten carefully selected artists and myself at the Centre for Fine Print Research. Prints are accompanied by sketches, correspondence, and draft editions that demonstrate the importance of the artist-master printer relationship, the iterations necessary to achieve the final print, and the archiving and recording process.
The exhibition also explores the evolution of digital technology and its potential to influence established definitions and practices within the field of printmaking. The premise and title for the show was developed over the last three years – although the type of inquiry can be seen as an extension from my PhD (that centred upon practice led methods with artists producing inkjet prints). In this instance I wanted to begin exploring the broader production and realisation possibilities for the digitally mediated print and the resulting artefacts context within the contemporary printmaking. In early 2012 I submitted this idea as a proposal for an early career research grant (Funded by UWE) that was then funded allowing me to instigate a collaborative digital print studio model and develop a publishing studio within the University. The publishing studio is still running today and is situated within the Centre for Fine Print Research – and aptly named CFPR Editions. A large percentage of my projects with artists, research activity and art practice is informed by the digitally mediated print and subsequently the work produced through CFPR Editions has been instrumental in a large portion of the work in the Just Press Print Exhibition.
The aim of the exhibition and residency is to engage the public with the possibilities of print in the digital age. By documenting in detail the physical working practices of the artists with whom I have collaborated the exhibition dispenses with conventional exhibition formats, 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), thereby focusing on the evidence of the creative process rather than the often emphasized resulting outcome. The curatorial approach (through print editioning narratives) aims to increase understanding of digital print practices for artists, academics, students, teachers and the general public… so hopefully a wide range of people will come.