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.
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.
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.
To get some inspiration and direction for my project ‘Pain’ I decided to look at Olafur Eliasson as I realised that the easiest way to create pain in the viewer would be through the use of colour. The most important part of this artists practice to my current project is the way in which he uses colour, in the form of vibrant room lighting to ‘toy with viewers’ perceptions and to probe the nature of seeing.’ I find this concept absolutely fascinating as it means that his audience have a physical experience by viewing his art in the flesh. For example in some of his works he fills a whole room with nothing but neon lights emitting one colour, which results in the viewers vision being physically effected as they stop processing this colour after a while, so once they leave the room the way they perceive colour is different. I think this is very clever as very little artists work has effect on its audience nowadays as it seems that we are immune to being shocked by art but Eliasson’s technique means that the viewer has a physical reaction, whether or not they like the piece or even understand it. He has also caused some of his viewers to have a sensation of seasickness when placing a rotating mirror at an angle from a gallery ceiling. I think (although this is not the meaning of his work) that this is an interesting representation of how far art has gone, as we can no longer be shocked by Gothic novels or gruesome images, only by things that physically make our bodies react. From this interpretation I decided to look further into the psychology of colour, to see what colours would create pain in the viewer subconsciously. From this research I found that surprisingly too much yellow can create feelings of anxiety, depression and even make the viewer suicidal, whereas most people would associate this colour with happiness and positivity. I am now going to do some drawings to decide how I will develop these concepts that I have taken from my research, which I feel has been very beneficial to my project.
For my final project in part 2 of my course I was given a self managed task with the title ‘Process’, for which we had to come up with our own theme. As I had enjoyed using my poetry in my work for my last project I decided to start by using these again for inspiration for this project, and decided to use mono printing to present them. After my first brief experimentation I looked at Tracey Emin to give me more inspiration as I was aware that she combined text and illustrations in her mono prints which is what I also wanted to do. I also like the way in which Emin tends to use traditional methods, such as embroidery or printing, to confront personal and traumatic topics. I feel that this makes the pieces much more painful because of the drawn out process Emin has had to go through to create them. I like the messy nature of Emin’s prints, they look rushed and frustrated, scrawled as though the person who created them has gone insane and lost all control and it is this spontaneous aesthetic that I want to create in my own work. In my second session of mono printing I produced over 40 prints, and through this experimentation I found new ways of creating prints where the lines were quite fine, which was especially useful when I was trying to write out my own poems. I also found a new process where I wrote into the ink covered surface and then printed onto the paper which made negative imprints, this worked particularly effectively on some of my darker poems. The fact that you have to write backwards I feel perfectly illustrates my poems, as I want to show how they are these difficult thoughts for me to process and understand, instead of being these beautifully written and structured pieces of creative writing. One of my favourite outcomes, which was largely inspired be Emin’s mono prints, was a simple line drawing of a sink with the words ‘WASH YOUR FACE’ underneath, I used this to represent the way that mental illness can make everyday tasks, such as simply washing your face and looking after yourself, impossible.
Although I really enjoyed this process and hope to do some more later on at a larger scale, I don’t think I shall be developing this process for the rest of my project but I do want to carry on with this on the side of my studies and possibly create a small book of my poems and illustrations using this process. From this experimentation I have found a good concept for my project and I think I am going to go with the title of ‘Pain’ as these mono prints have helped me constructively deal with my own emotional pain, and the concept of something being visually painful or hard to deal with for someone with a mental illness, such as an everyday setting, is something I feel I could carry on to create a strong final outcome.