The Human Printer

Paul Laidler, The Human Printer.tiff, Produced by The Human Printer, 2010
Paul Laidler, The Human Printer.tiff, Produced by The Human Printer, 2010

‘First we shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.’ (M. McLuhan, 1964)

The Human Printer.tiff is part of a series entitled Print is Dead andwas produced by a group called The Human Printer. The group consists of eleven individuals who specialise in reproducing by hand, the digitised rendering of a half-tone image that is normally associated with mechanical print processes. The Human Printer group has adopted the remote Print-on-demand facility for transferring digital files, although the potential to rapidly produce large editions is somewhat limited due to the extensive labour involved and the small-scale production of the studio. The Human Printer.tiff (see source file here) took just over two weeks from order to receipt.

In keeping with the mechanised half-tone print process, the digital image is printed as colour separations using the four printing channels of CMYK. To produce the final drawn image, each colour separation is traced individually on to a single sheet of semi-transparent paper so that collectively, the channels register with one another. The layering order of each colour follows the half-tone print procedure using four different coloured pens that correspond to each of the separate colour channels.The Human Printer’s transcription process includes the visual descriptions associated with reproduction through the mechanised image. The Human Printer’s rendering of a coarse photographic half-tone and its associations with automation are reminiscent of Andy Warhol’s 1963 comment “I want to be a machine”.

Further overtones of convergence between humans and technology reference a (hypothetical) Post-human future where a biological generation of humanity ends and technological one begins. The influence of science and technology upon the human condition has been a constant source of inspiration for the field of science fiction. In more recent times the fictional associations with phenomena such as implants, smart materials and cloning have accelerated the science fiction world toward are own.

The idea that a fiction can become functional through an associated process has been incorporated in to the selection of a specific technology for the work entitled Stretch out with your feelings.

The Human Printer.tiff is part of larger series of work entitled Print is Dead that continues the theme of humans as printers and the broadening definition of the print medium in the digital age.