Looking through the eyes of machines as humans

eyespublicationLaidler. P (2016) Mapping a Mental Change: Beginnings and departure points, Working Proof, No2, pp 59 – 62.

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.

Beginnings:
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!

Postdigital variations:
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.

The T-Shaped:

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.

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This means something. This is important.

‘I can’t describe it, what I’m feeling and what I’m thinking, this means something! This is important’ are the words of Roy Neary played by the actor Richard Dreyfuss in the 1977 science fiction film Close Encounters of the Third Kind. In the film Neary is depicted as an adult who never really grew up, a character that gradually becomes obsessed about an image in his mind – followed by the ensuing need to externalise his vision. More specifically this sweeping analysis of the film refers to the the bit that I am interested in.

Form Follows Fiction

Although the actions of Roy Neary in the ‘mash potato scene’ are largely induced by his previous alien encounter in the film, his child like conduct and obsessive behaviour provide the first segue in to what appears to becoming a series of art works (Stretch out with your feelings & Ray Kinsella) that embrace the theme of Form Follows Fiction. Here the obsessive and compulsive nature (and sometimes child like) provide a parallel with the artist and designer, individuals that can embody a similar preoccupied disposition – often attributed to the single minded pursuit. Other ‘artistic’ segue include; technologically enabled ‘remakes’ and a continuing fascination with objects that initiate oscillations between fiction and reality.

The Making:

Devils Mountain, Google Earth View
Google Earth View of Devils Tower, Wyoming, USA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was originally interested in developing a series of drawings for this project by using Google Earth as my point of reference and vantage point. The outcome would be to continuously produce multiple drawn copies of Devils Tower. The continuous re-drawing of the tower would eventually result in the image becoming fixed in my mind – a subtle nod to the plight of Roy Neary. I would therefore be able to recall and draw its image at will, continuously recreating Devil’s Tower in multiple form. The idea would be to explore today’s situation where the body is no longer the dominant measure of space. Instead it is digital technology that dictates how we see and experience the world – affording a new mediated measuring stick. I may still undertake this approach although I would need to carry over some further facet of the Google Earth program – in order for the work to mean something, something important.

3D render for Devils Tower, Wyoming USA
Terrainator render of Devils Tower, Wyoming
3D render for Devils Tower, Wyoming USA
Terrainator render of Devils Tower, Wyoming

 

Anyway, some months after this initial thought I was speaking with a friend who mentioned that he was thinking about 3D printing a trek that he had recently walked in the USA. To cut a long story a bit shorter I researched the 3D capture and print possibilities for landscapes and found an online company called Terrainator. The company use an algorithm to extract the topographical data from Google Earth and extrude this information to create a three dimensional file. The generated 3D data is exportable to the print on demand company Shapeways who specialise in 3D printing. Alternatively you can purchase the 3D file and print it yourself – much cheaper. Above are two views of the topographical render created by Terrainator for the national monument Devils Tower in Wyoming, United States.

The 3D image file that was produced by Terrainator wasn’t quite what I was expecting. This was mainly due to the fact that the top of the tower wasn’t flat – like it is in the Google Earth image or in reality, and more importantly like it is in the film!

Wire Mesh for Devils Tower
Wire Mesh for Devils Tower
3D file of Devils Tower
3D surface render of Devils Tower
3D build file for Devils Tower in Mash Potato
3D build file for Devils Tower

Once in possession of the 3D file (and to initiate the Form Follows Fiction theme) it seemed only logical that the physical rendering of the data should remain true to my filmic reference, that being mash potato. Whilst I say mash potato I really mean the instant mash potato brand Smash. Smash / mash potato is not one of the more common material’s used in the 3D printing world and I therefore had to access a more novel approach to printing. Luckily two of my colleagues at the CFPR Peter Walters and David Huson had had some previous experience printing with Smash and designing bespoke extrusion systems for the process.

Extrusion System and Printing Material

Interestingly the printing process allowed me to recover the flat summit of Devils Tower, the bit that had been lost in the 3D generation of the file. This achievement was not so much an insightful bit of software manipulation or a crafted adjustment to the hardware. Instead it was accomplished by the timely pressing of the pause button, about a minute from the end of the print. The printing of the mash potato tower also included a fixing agent in the Smash and water mix. This helped the structure retain its shape whilst drying. The previous 100% Smash and water mix had resulted in the structure slumping after an hour or so. The resulting prints conjured visions of printed objects by the Biltong creature in Philip K Dick’s 1955 dystopian novel ‘Pay for the Printer‘. In the novel the Biltong is an alien that serves humankind by duplicating everyday objects but over time the Biltong’s have become exhausted, to the point of extinction – and are no longer able to produce accurate copies. The quality of these inferior objects degrade each time they are replicated to the point where nothing has any longevity, buildings are collapsing in on themselves and newspapers become nothing more than a mishmash of meaningless words. The loss of function is described as ‘puddinged’, an adjective articulated in the novel where several copies later a Swiss watch has become nothing more than a piece of misshapen metal. Mmmm ‘puddinged’.

That said the new addition of the binding agent still has a few structural integrity problems but it was good enough to produce a 3D print that could be photographically recorded for the Annual Miniature print show at the Arnolfini. Unlike the scale of the 3D printed Devils Tower artwork Beautiful Minds (2017) by the artist Anya Gallaccio my 3D printed mash potato version has an altitude of 14cm and is now located in my desk draw waiting for further developments of the idea.

3D Printing of Devils Tower in Mash Potato
3D Printing of Devils Tower in Mash Potato
3D Printing of Devils Tower in Mash Potato
This means something. This is important. (2016)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acknowledgements:

Big thanks to Peter Walters and Dave Huson for allowing me to print on their machine and with their assistance.

 

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Students who have looked through the eyes of machines.

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 studentsA 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.

student_eyes
Nick Greenglass print matrix photographed by P. Laidler

 

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.

Acknowledgements:
* 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.

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Gallery Twenty Two

 

The international student print exchange exhibition #Looking Through These Eyes Of Machines As Students was recently exhibited at Gallery Twenty Two in Bristol. The reception was well attended on the opening night with lots of positive discussion and commentary about the printed work and the forthcoming student publication – not to mention a couple of print sales.

_MG_9087-Recovered
#LookingThroughTheEyesOfMachinesAsStudents, Gallery Twenty Two
EyesOfMachines_Jono
Jono Sandilands example page from forthcoming publication

On behalf of the participating students and myself I would like to thank Gallery Twenty Two owners Zoe Cox and Victoria Chalmers for accepting the exhibition and providing great support throughout. I would also like to thank the School of Art & Design at UWE for funding the exhibition space and enabling the students to experience a commercial gallery setting for their work.

The exhibition was also shown at a second commercial gallery, Gallery CA in the city of Baltimore as part of the exchange project. A few images from the Baltimore exchange show can be seen below courtesy of MICA BA Printmaking programme leader Jonathan Thomas.

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Gallery CA Baltimore

 

 

 

 

 

A Bristol Baltimore Print Exchange

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.

_MG_8994
Just Press Print Exhibition, Meyerhoff Gallery MICA, 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

O_Beckett
Olivia Beckett
T_Handy
Tom Handy
JonoK
Jono Kamester
S_McCarthy
Steve MaCarthy
W_Purdy
Willem Purdy
R_Irvine
Ruth Irvine
E_Rathbone
Eleanor Rathbone
M_Scott
Matilda Scott
StuartC
Stuart Cannell
N_Greenglass
Nick Greenglass
J_Sandilands
Jono Sandilands
S_Turnbull
Stephanie Turnbull
J_Burns
Jamie Burns
Lily_Papadopoulos
Evangelia Papadopoulos
J_Lau
Judy Lau

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

R_Irvine_detail
Ruth Irvine, Coded (Preparatory Work), 2016
O_Beckett_detail
Olivia Beckett, Changing States (Preparatory Work), 2016
J_Sandilands
Jono Sndilands, Pinball (Preparatory Work), 2016

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.

Revisiting Richard Hamilton’s Typo-Topography of Marcel Duchamp’s Large Glass

QuarterlyLaidler, 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.

Abstract
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.

Complete text can be viewed on the UWE Repository and the printed text version of the article can be purchased via the Print Quarterly Website

Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 13.36.43
Pages 19-20 from the March edition of Print Quarterly

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Looking through the eyes of machines as students

International Student Exchange Exhibition

In January 2016 fifteen UWE Art and Design students were selected from Graphic Art disciplines to contribute to an international student exchange exhibition with Maryland Institute College of Art, (MICA) Baltimore USA. The exchange exhibition was developed as part of a touring exhibition (of US Universities between 2015 & 2017) entitled Just Press Print that is currently on show at MICA. The Just Press Print exhibition at MICA runs parallel to a new 16-week course entitled Print and Technology taught by MICA faculty lecturers Johnathan Thomas and Robert Tillman. The class will examine how technology has expanded conceptual and procedural possibilities for making prints. The work generated by the MICA students during the Print and Technology class will be used to produce a printed edition for the student exchange portfolio with UWE and will be exhibited in both Bristol and in Baltimore.

Cannell
Stuart Cannell, Screen Print, MA Printmaking

The UWE student brief continues the technological approach to making from the MICA Print and Technology class and also borrows from part of the conceptual narrative behind the Just Press Print Exhibition. The narrative aims to comment upon a postdigital view of the Graphic Arts and what this sounds like from a maker’s perspective. The inquiry also aims to elaborate on what a postdigital graphic art might look like and what type of thinking is involved. This ‘behind the scene’s’ narrative is also influenced by early writings on The New Aesthetic and technological based statements from the author Bruce Sterling, where his writings felt like some visual inquiry was needed. For example Mr Sterling suggested in 2012 that, ‘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’. Some indications as to what this may look like can be found on a Pinterest board that I have begun compiling entitled Analogue after digital. To view the series of images you must first be signed in to Pinterest.

The UWE student brief for the exchange portfolio invites participants to explore the development of today’s technologically informed scene. Students have been asked to respond to one of the following quotes / ruminations below (that allude to many of the artists works in the Just Press Print exhibition) by Bruce Sterling.

‘Looking through the eyes of machines as humans’ and ‘An eruption of the digital into the physical’.

UWE Students have also been asked to document their thoughts and processes during the making of the work with a view to creating a publication similar to the Working Proof: Featuring Just Press Print publication.

UWE courses and selected students include:
BA Illustration: Olivia Beckett, Tom Handy, Jono KamesterSteve 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

The portfolio of print will be restricted to A3 sized works on paper (or appropriate substrates) and any print process may be used (mechanical or digital). Each student will produce an edition of 6
 prints. The prints will be distributed as follows:
(1/6 & 2/6 to be exhibited in MICA and UWE)
(3/6 & 4/6 for respective archives)
(5/6 & 6/6 for further exhibition opportunities)

Update:
The UWE half of the student exchange exhibition had their first group meeting today. Some early workings from the students can be seen below, more to follow in the coming weeks.

Jude Lau, Printed Animation, MA Printmaking

nick
Nick Greenglass, Relief Print, MA Printmaking
ste
Steve MCcarthy, Inkjet Print, BA Illustration
jono
Jono Sandilands, Blender screen grab, MA Printmaking

Print on the wall

_MG_8994
Just Press Print Exhibition, Meyerhoff Gallery MICA, 2016

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.

_MG_8972_MG_8980_MG_8970Just 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.

_MG_8962The 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.

Stan
Stan Donwood, Just Press Print Exhibition, Meyerhoff Gallery MICA,

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.

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Carolyn Bunt, Just Press Print Exhibition, Meyerhoff Gallery MICA,

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.

The exhibition publication Working Proof: Featuring Just Press Print is available as an e-publication and a printed version through Newspaper Club which is available to purchase.

Photography by J. Thomas and P. Laidler

Evidence of presented lectures and talks at MICA can be seen through the links below.

Press Print

fingerprintWhere 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.

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Supporting material for Just Press Print
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Supporting material for Just Press Print

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’.

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Example page for Working Proof: featuring Just Press Print pubication

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.

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g&e publication
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Porto Arte publication

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.

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Supporting material for Just Press Print (Exhibited at Impact 8 Conference)
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Supporting material for Just Press Print

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.

Lanzarotte

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Supporting imagery for Just Press Print

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.

dis_oneMore to follow as we get closer to the MICA exhibtion in December 2015