Friday, 19 September 2008

The Cadillac Whiz

I recently read an old Wired article entitled The New Remasters (1996 maybe) during my searches for digital printmaker practitioners. Amongst other things the article got me thinking about two areas of print; firstly the values and distinctions assigned to reproductions and secondly the 'fine art' of reproduction.

The New Remasters summary
In short the article centers around the main protagonist James Danziger and his online fine art reproduction company There is also a cameo appaearence from the Iris Ink-jet printer and not to mention 'the world renown fine art printer' David Adamson.
Danziger's story unfolds shortly after seeing a digital print reproduction produced by Adamson for the photographer Joel Meyerowitz. The reproduction is produced with an Iris inkjet printer (a seminal machine within digital printmaking) that is of such high quality that he (Danziger) decides to investigates the Iris prints marketability. Danziger shows the work to a group of museum curators who subsequently cannot tell the difference between the Iris reproduction and the original print. Further more the Iris print surpasses any poster reproductions produced by museums and galleries - eventually Danziger teams up with Adamson and begins producing high-end reproduction prints.

"Iris printing has become the Cadillac of digital reproduction" and "Adamson was a whiz at making Iris reproductions"

Amongst other commentators Danziger highlights Adamson's mastery of the Iris as an integral contribution toward producing the unique kind of reproduction that only offers.

"The Iris print falls somewhere between self-betterment and decoration"

Around 75% of Adamson's reproduction process uses automated colour management methods, the other 25% is left to Adamson's experience and interpretation. The intuitive part (the 25%) of the the workflow is in the colour balancing which Adamson describes as the place where 'there is still some judgement involved'. Here Adamson utilises his experience of Iris printing by selectively bringing out crucial nuances that can get lost in the translation from the 'digital matrix' to the printed image.

The reproductive production within a fine art printmaking context got me thinking about a piece of writing entitled Endangered Species by the British Artist Richard Hamilton. Throughout Hamilton's experience of working with an array of traditional Master Printers he observed that the 'most admirable print craftsman' were those who had been involved in some reproductive endeavour. Hamilton summaries that the printer's transcription sensibilities were testament to the demands of reproductive work where the best printers "polished their genius on the mundane tasks of translating between media".
Hamilton has also been an advocate for selecting printers based upon what he considers to be their particular strength and therefore which printer is best suited to a specific project. More over it is often said in fine art printmaking circles that when an artist works with a specific studio/Master Printer they will be adopting the house style of that studio in their work.
I find the house style attribute intriguing when applied to high-end reproductions, copies, replica's or facsimiles. A reproduction created in this way assumes a richer provenance and therefore added value, maybe even a unique 'synthesised aura'

"I want the best copy. The only copy. The most expensive copy. I want James Joyce's Chamber Music. I want the 1907 version, the "variant" the first variant, [...] I want the earliest copy on record. I want the copy that is rarer than anyone had previously dreamed of. I want the copy the dreams"

Richard Prince, Bringing It all Back Home, 1988

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Shore to be Shore!

Stephen Shore, West Third Street, Parkersberg, West Virginia, May 16, 1974

Found an interesting video link the other day that got me on to thinking about Michael Polanyi's tacit knowledge and photos amongst other things. The link is a short documentary entitled American Beauty about the Photographer Stephen Shore who describes elements of his practice. Shores methodology was the bit that subsequently reminded me of Polanyi's famous aphorism "We know more then we can tell".
With a certain sense of irony Shore (in his own words) describes a 'wordless' thinking that takes place during the creation of one of his photographs.

"Most people presume thinking has to do with words that are either spoken or thought, where as visual thinking does not have these words"

Shore goes on to inform us that he spent ten years learning the formal properties of photography. Because of this sustained period of learning Shore comments that he does not (consciously) need to think about these formalistic devices when taking photos. Similar to the forging of a 'tacit knowing' much of the previous conscious picture making strategies have receded into Shores subconscious, leaving mostly instinctual decisions. By essentially freeing the mind from directly thinking about these elements of the work Shore is able to 'think' about where he is going with the picture. This and other descriptions by Shore appear comparable to an iterative form of learning, common to the properties of tacit knowledge.

Other things:
Shore utilizes the inherent qualitative aspects of the large format photograph such as clarity and detail for example. These qualities provide Shore with the visual representation of what he describes as a 'heightened state of awareness,' equally pertinent toward his interest with a clear and focused attention of the everyday world.

One particular insight by Shore regarding the experience of time through the photographic image made me think of the photograph and its relationship to reality. Shore explains the speed with which we experience a photographic image when looking at the print (normally a few secs) - compared with the actuality of time that can reside within a photograph (exposure time). The experience of time through a photograph is allusive to us although visually acknowledgeable, as Shore summaries in saying "there is a sense of time being compressed in a photo". It is this reminder of how image and reality differ that got me thinking about my own interest in the prominence of image over reality.

"The camera in all its manifestations is our god, dispensing what we mistakenly take to be truth. The photograph is the modern world" - Thomas Lawson

With this in mind it's amusing to consider the photographic exposure length as having the prevailing influence upon the time with which we can only experience the images depiction of reality. Or a kind of synesthesia where the exposure length maybe experienced as 'weight', here a seven-minute exposure compared to that of a two second would feel lighter! There's possibly an artwork in here somewhere!

Monday, 28 July 2008

Revisiting the Past - Timeline

Over the past few days I've been ploughing (maybe a slight exaggeration) through the various ways in which data can be presented and designed on the web - see account under the 'research' tag or the links below.

Two examples:
BBC British History Timeline - by far the coolest!

How to build your own:

Upon reviewing my own previous attempts of bringing together and presenting various bits of data (using print), I can see why I subsequently thought that the results were somewhat stagnant in the printed format.
The specific revisited data in question was a timeline that I had tentatively been adding to every now and again (see Adobe Indesign screen grab example image above).

Brief outline of timeline:
The fields for the timeline that I considered to be most appropriate to the research (fine art digital printmaking) were divised into the following categories:
- technology - events - fine art prints - print studios - texts.
Each category contained an image and descriptors; including relevance (to the research), key words and spec details where necessary.
My first attempt at displaying a small portion of this information via the timetoast site (the easiest online facility I tried) can be found here or under Links > Technology Timeline.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

First Post

After attending an academic blog workshop recently (that highlighted many reasons as to why a research student would do such a thing) I find myself writing this sentence 'as a blogger'.
However getting to grips with the fact that these words maybe read by an 'unknown audience' I'll get on with my first post about the why's and the what's concerning this blog.

Based upon my thoughts, notes and attention in the blog workshop:

A public diary/ notebook
Allowing peers, supervisors, friends and family to know what I'm up too. e.g.
"I haven't got time this minute but you can have a look at my blog"

Benefits of the technology
Accessing the tools to create a dynamic notebook - collating previously separate information in one space - an archived and (mostly) accessible version of ones study on the web - making contacts and finding like minded people through other blogs.

Thinking about writing
Considering the audience and the thought process of instant publishing - writing styles - writing around the research - a space to consolidate ideas while hopefully not becoming overly precious about writing.

As a resource
For me personally it's important that the work I'm doing offers something outside of its journey to a red leather bound slab of words. It's often satisfying to know that something you have read, experienced or commented on has been of interest or even of use to another.

A brief blog overview
The fields of interest within this blog will be: art - technology - craft
The blog will help facilitate the process of research: writing - methods - content
The Peripheral: random thoughts along the way

Interesting related link below: