Saturday, 15 March 2014

Working Proof



Hello there, it's been a few months since we last spoke, but I have been working.... promise.

The proof of working or working proof!
Over the next few weeks I intend to review some of my past, current and future print related projects by producing what maybe best described as both a beginning and summary publication. In regard to the latter, the publication will consolidate some of my research (collaborative activities, art practice and writing) that can often become separate endeavors when one is wearing many hats! I also envisage that the publication will function as a piece of publicity material for work produced at the CFPR. More importantly (and as a beginning) the content will provide a baseline for facilitating new and future dialogues with the graphic arts and printmaking communities. Oh yeah its gonna be called Working Proof, I think!

The foundations for the publication can be seen as an extension of my PhD research, 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, Cecilia Mandrile, 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. If this sounds of interest you can find related posts and project updates in the coming weeks through my twitter account.

Publicity image for Exhibition at Northern Print

Working Proof Introduction:
The main focus of Working Proof stems from the close relationships that exist between technology, ideas and making in the visual arts — particularly in the area of digitally mediated print and its many offshoots. The aim of Working Proof will be to develop a framework that will map a technologically informed graphic territory, a territory developed through practitioner based insights that inhabit a ‘thinking through making’ position.

In order to begin summarizing the content for the publication (via the medium of writing) I had to come up with some kind of working title - that would house my pre / post digital inquiries within the graphic arts. It goes like this; Printed conventions and digital extensions, re-materialising the graphic as artifact... I know what you are thinking but it will do for now.

Bit more situational background:
The concept of  ‘graphic image’ stands at the centre of print practice: a visual language that is constantly being impacted upon by an ever-expanding image-making technology. Even though there is evidence to suggest that printed conventions may be present within the broad field of digitally mediated artefacts, what reconciles these practices with the graphic art conventions still needs to be articulated?

Over the past 20 years digital technology has rapidly developed across creative practices within the visual arts. To this affect we have seen the development of new practices, groups and courses that centre upon an engagement with digital technology as a tool, medium and cultural phenomenon (Fab Labs, Digital Media Arts, etc). These emerging practices and disciplines are a direct response to the omnipresence of the digital age whilst the pervasive and mutable nature of the technology has had an equally profound influence upon pre-digital disciplines (such as printmaking, photography and drawing to name but a few). My own curiosity stems from the later of the two technologically informed perspectives, or more specifically the discussions that take place 'within' practice as apposed to 'upon' practice. This 'inside v outside' differentiation tends to produce a certain type of commentary, in so much as the designation of 'upon' is often associated with a socio historical perspective whereas 'within' presents the makers insight - I think that makes sense! Or in the words of the artist Grayson Perry ‘The people in power in the art world are often writers rather than makers. They do not always have such good access to the nonverbal relationships with objects…’

So how have I started stringing together a position?

Here’s how - and in summary:
Within the creative arts, where practice is informed by digital technology and the resulting artifact is physical - we may attribute the term post digital. This particular definition of post digital is somewhat broad and subsequently can be used across a range of separate disciplines, each assigning their own discourses and sensibilities alike. I therefore became curious to consider how this contemporary term maybe defined within the field of graphic arts and printmaking.

Just to clarify — in this instance the relationship with graphic arts practice originates from the discipline of printmaking and the realization of physical artifacts in the digital age. Here the affiliation with post digital does not exclude the use of digital technology but seeks to consider its influence within print, making and contemporary craft orientated pursuits. For example, within HE digital technologies such as rapid prototyping and laser cutting are gradually being encompassed within the field of printmaking despite the fact that these tools often reside (and have predominantly originated) in other disciplines or departments. This raises questions as to how resulting works are being discussed and located within the discipline of printmaking — alongside the endevours of architecture or product design departments? Fundamentally the introduction of rapid prototyping into the field of printmaking raises interesting debates around the idea of discipline specificity — is it printmaking or sculpture? Or does this even matter and if so to whom does it matter and why?

Vela, Peter Walters & Katie Davis 3D Print

Shifts and extensions:
Accompanying the technical and process led affiliations with separate disciplines the artist and academic Luis Camnitzer suggested that, ‘digital technologies have brought not only technical innovations in print practices, but also and most importantly, have provoked a ‘mental change’ in the creative process. Camnitzer’s ruminations concerning the impact of digital technology on the future of printmaking prompt a number of questions concerning the longevity of the discipline and how these technologies are addressed alongside established practices (as it is predominantly understood today). These allusions to a (digitally informed) shift within printmaking practices resonated with the central exhibition of the 28th Biennial of Graphic Arts, Ljubljana (2009) entitled ‘The Matrix: An Unstable Reality’. The print matrix has been a constant and tangible print component within the discipline of printmaking yet as the exhibition title suggests this fixed point of reference is not so stable or controllable in the digital age. This uncertainty with a practice where the physicality of tools and process has been engrained into the language of a discipline resulted in the initial curatorial question of the exhibition ‘Does a medium stay the same once it incorporates new technologies in its discourse’? The exhibition selected artists’ work that was defined as extending from ‘traditional and contemporary printmaking’ but how many extension possibilities might there be and what informs the point of departure? Perhaps more importantly to what end can we understand these developments as graphic practice?

Wall text from Just Press Print Exhibition 

At the other end of the spectrum the realisation of artifacts that attempt to bridge the digital and physical divide has been more readily embraced within the Design field. This is most notable through the exhibition ‘After the bit rush’ where questions as to whether something is analogue or digital appear to have receded. More over we have seen further incarnations of digital developments such as augmented print, e-print and digital editions in the truest sense (see [s]editions). At first glance these later developments maybe best defined as new media thus appearing to be more digital then printmaking’s association with digital technology and the disciplines relationship with notions of materiality and physicality. At root these developments have a historical lineage with printmaking yet the role of discipline specificity upon new and associated technologies appears to be blurred, de-emphasized or lacking in a dialogue toward defining the disciplines heritage with production, realisation and artisanship in the wake of technological advancement. Here the computer as the magic black box phenomenon predominantly facilitates the question of what can we do, as apposed to what are we doing?

It is also worth noting that these shifting technological perspectives and possibilities are playing a part in reinvigorating the crafts. At first glance this may appear to be a rejection of digitals virtual and system based products and a return to the physical and handmade. On another level the notion of craft is extending, simultaneously incorporating the technological with the physical through programming and hacking for instance. In the recent Out of Hand, Materializing the Postdigital exhibition at MAD curator Ronald Labaco echoed similar sentiments as the (previously mentioned) After the bit rush exhibition in stating, ‘the digital revolution is over and we are now in a post-revolutionary period, with the achievements of the last few decades taken for granted and even expected in the creative industries. So “post digital” doesn’t mark the end of the digital age but instead the broad acceptance of digital technologies as commonplace.’

At root my ramblings could be perceived as verging on a truth to materials position thus relating to questions about discipline specificity, making and heritage prior to the pervasive impact of digital technology across creative arts practices. Ironically I tend to have a postmodern approach in my own art practice yet I can't help feeling a gap is growing - when considering how the field of printmaking may or may not distinguish itself from other creative arts practices that are engaging with similar technological developments.

Thank you for listening reading - more to follow in the coming weeks.

2 comments:

ankit kumar said...

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Groobers

Peter Russell said...

Really nice paintings.