28 September 2011

Impact7, Day 2, Digital Technologies

I went to hear Jill Webster (from NZ's EIT) spoke on the topic, “The Invisible Matrix:
How a digital and traditional printmaking practice can support one another”.  

Since the release of the film, the word 'matrix' conjures scenarios 
of confused realities and minds controlled by machines, most notably computers. 
It appears that some of this fear has invaded the print studio. 
Her research seeks to dispel or decrease fear 
of the 'invisible matrix' created when computers are used in printmaking. 
She presented examples of how the digital can be integrated into a printmaking practice
and how the handmade and handcraft aspects of print can be supported and broadened.

Jill suggested that it is important that graphic designers continue to work 
with hand-generated mark-making, such as drawing, painting and print 
and that printmaking students should be encouraged 
to keep their computer skills active when making work.
Encouraging these media cross-overs is also realistic, 
given that young people are so embedded in the digital world. 

Jill also proposed that we need to show by example 
how the hand-generated can add material and historical richness to image making, 
because whatever media young people move into, 
it will be 'as well as' the digital, not 'instead of'.

Jill Webster, Cumulo Identicus, 2009

The session also included two presenters from Dundee, Scotland.
Simone O’Callaghan (GBR) was speaking about a large collaborative project
in which ‘tagging’ artworks enables viewers to engage with the stories behind artworks
using their mobile phones in both studio & gallery environments.
She talked about how artists’ stories may alter perceptions
and provide connections for the viewer, making artworks more accessible.  
It sounds like a great way to get viewers to interact with artists using technology.

Supported by the Digital Economy Research Councils UK, 
TOTeM explores new ways of preserving people's memories and stories, 
through linking objects to the Internet via emerging technologies such as QR Codes. 
Print-based artworks made by invited members of the open access print studio 
are linked (known as 'tagging) via a QR code 
to digital media content which can be played on a mobile phone.

You can find out more about tagging digital information to objects
on the websites: Tales of Things and YouTotem
This concept has been explored further through a case study
in Print studio at Dundee Contemporary Arts.  

Inside the DCA

Annis Fitzhugh (also from Dundee Contemporary Arts, UK) spoke about the impact of
introducing a range of new technology to a traditional open-access print workshop.
The DCA model maximizes the potential of interfacing digital manipulation and production
with traditional print-process, in order to exploit the best of both.

DCA Print Studio currently offers an unparalleled range of equipment in a public facility, 
and is extensively used by artist members, students, schools and community groups.

The new technology includes:
Digital laser-cutter: for accurate cutting and engraving of paper, wood, acrylics and stone.
Digital router/engraver: for metal, plastic and wood matrices.
Digital knife-cutter/pouncer: to render imagery in opaque film (Rubylith) and/or vinyl.
Large format digital printer: to create halftone positives and high quality inkjet printing.

The enhanced facility offers a unique environment where artists can 
select from or combine digital, photographic and autographic print-media in one studio, 
using the most contemporary technology available as well as the most antique.

Using this equipment to make various forms of print matrices:
from wood & Perspex for block printing and embossing, metal for etching,
stone for lithography, stencil film to apply to screens,
and even directly cutting and burning surface of paper directly using images made digitally.

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