Intaglio printing experiment

In the past week I was granted the opportunity to try out the intaglio printing process. In preparation for this I researched Dora Maurer’s work with printmaking as I had heard that she aimed to produce indeterminable outcomes from processes, which is what most interests myself. In my research I found her piece ‘Throwing the Plate from Very High” to be of most influence to my own approach to the intaglio print process, as I too wanted to catch something as fleeting as a moment of impact. My initial brainstorm in the workshop was thinking about how I could capture ice melting through this process, unfortunately this did not seem possible given that water softly shrinking would not mark the soft ground applied to the plate, but perhaps I may be able to do something with water, salt and vinegar that would arrive at a similar outcome once I have a better understanding of this process as a whole. In the end I decided that the best way for me to start using this process initially would be to mimic Maurer’s use of the process but instead of throwing the plate, drop a slab of ice onto it.

This made a much larger mark than both the technician and I had expected which was positive, but as a saw that there was still large pieces of ice intact I decided to continue smashing the remaining pieces onto the plate until there was none left. The spontaneous performance of this was quite exciting, being free to smash blocks of ice as an expression of nature felt liberating and almost therapeutic. The plate took around 40 minutes to get a good etch as I used steel with a very thin layer of soft ground. At first I found this process quite intimidating because of its complexity but once I had inked up the plate and created my first print I felt much more comfortable in the print workshop and I am eager to experiment with the boundaries that this process has to offer.

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‘Dropping ice from quite high’

Despite having got a final outcome from the plate I didn’t quite feel that this piece was resolved yet. In my other studio work I had been experimenting with a more common process of printmaking; photocopying. Using an A3 photocopier I have been manipulating colourful images by moving them sporadically whilst being scanned and working repetitively from those scans rather than the original image in order to expose the colours. I decided to see what would happen if I did the same to this black and white image, but I didn’t feel that it would be right to add more movement to the print as it was being scanned as the ‘action’ had already happened within the image. Instead I decided to see what would happen if I continued to photocopy the previous photocopy of the print as I was hoping that this in some way could visually resemble the process of ice melting.

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36 photocopies of photocopies

This is the result of photocopying photocopies of the print 36 times, although changes in the quality cannot be noticed when a photocopy of the previous photocopy are compared, the 6 diagonal copies in the middle show the disintegration of the process concisely. I am pleased with the development of this idea, what I was most interested in Maurer’s work was the way in which she exposed processes and I feel that I have achieved this to some extent here with the photocopies. The repetitive and tedious task of photocopying photocopies exposes the fact that this instant process of reproducing an image has its faults, every time a new photocopy is made the image is manipulated further away from the original and truthful image. For me this is important as I think it could be applied to the way in which society, especially western society, views itself within the natural world. Over the most recent period of history we have found ourselves progressively loosing touch with the natural world of which we are apart of, with the focus of our day to day lives slowly leaning toward technology and ridiculousness, instead of growing to understand ourselves and the world around us.

Blind drawings

I was concerned that my final film, which will be all of my experimentations with kaleidoscopes and maggots, would not completely portray my ideas about different perspectives from people living in different mental states. I started experimenting with ‘blind drawings’ after initially doing some in my smaller sketchbook, as I thought this may be a relevant piece of work to include in my installation space as I felt that these blind drawings where a literal representations of how everyday things can be perceived differently with a disability, as the outcomes of these experiments where completely different to what would have been produced if I had been looking at the paper aswell as the subject. Because I was focusing only on my subject and avoiding looking at the paper the outcomes of using this technique where completely unrefined, and therefore showed my most basic translation of how I perceive things onto paper. I experimented with this technique at first in only black pen, I then went on to experiment with it on bits of rubbish as I felt this would represent the ‘horrible feelings’ in my mind, just as Martin Creed does in his film ‘sick and shit.’ I felt though, that my most successful development of this technique was when I began doing the drawings in different colours, this made it easier for the viewer to identify each drawings, whereas before they overlapped and combined with one another. Using different colours helps to guide the viewer through the drawings so that they can identify each individually, I felt that this was most relevant for my project as it showed multiple versions of one subject, drawn from different perspectives, but each perspective can be seen and appreciated wholly because they are easily differentiated due to the different colours. Although it could be argued that there is no real skill to these drawings I am pleased with the way that they came out completely unidentifiable from the subjects they were drawn from as they successfully show how our perspective can be altered to make the most simple things seem completely different, when living with a disability.

Example of blind drawing from my sketchbook

Frustrated drawings

As a starting point for this project I have been trying to do as much drawing as possible, although this is not something I like to do often as I personally feel my ‘artistic flair’ comes mainly from my concepts and ideas rather than from technical skill of putting pen (or pencil, paint brush or whatever your preferred medium is) to paper (or canvas, ceramics, wall etc.). Whilst becoming increasingly stressed and frustrated whilst experimenting with the Spirograph process I started thinking about making art under certain mental states. Inspired by Tracey Emin’s book ‘One Thousand Drawings’ I began keeping my own visual diary which I drew in every time I felt I needed to get something out, the result of this created rushed drawings that where full of emotion. One night I found myself feeling rather sad and frustrated about things, and instead of following through with my normal routine of self abuse I picked up a paintbrush, found some ink and began making marks on a page in my sketch book rather than on my skin. The results are far from perfect and I found that the more mistakes I made the more frustrated and angry with myself I became. I think the outcomes of these drawings are interesting to analyse though as I can see that I have a subconscious need for repetition to calm myself down. This mimics what I have often been told to do when I find myself on the verge of panic, where I repeat ‘blue bananas’ to myself until I finally find the situation manageable and usually quite amusing. I feel that from this subconscious experiment I have found that repetition is a form of ‘cure’ (at least a temporary one) to feelings of depression and anxiety, but on the other hand I can see that repetition can also be overwhelming depending on how it is used, so therefore I may try experimenting with using repetition both to calm and overwhelm my audience later on in my project to contrast this idea of ‘pain and sleep’ and show how the link together.

Frustrated drawings outcome, each on an A4 page.