The final project, as was, was supposed to bring together my practical experience and theoretical ideas about truth, perception and reality.
This one will be my final for “Chiaroscuro” as it’s the one that sums up how I feel, and also links back to Xu Bing, Series of repetitions, as well as being an echo to the image of David and Goliath. If that was the triumph of youth over age, this is really about aging and deterioration and loss. Thus it echoes the theme of Xu Bing’s woodcuts. Instead of woodcut, or copper, I used Perspex and photopolymer – the Perspex chosen as a brittle material, which I have already practiced with, using cracked lines to create patterns.
This was a simple typed text, one white on black the other reversed, and it was printed backwards with the words partly cut off, so as to take away some of the distraction of the semantics, while leaving it there to be found. Then lost again.
The grey colour evokes age, death, ashes, and the “ing” form reinforces the continuous day after day year after year nature of existence, with creeping decay. The later shapes echo skulls, primitive or animalistic ones, and the words are lost as language is. Towards the end of the series, negative space dominates.
The words were printed onto a transparency using a laser printer, so not dense blacks, and then exposed for an approximate length of time using aquatint. It didn’t really matter, all I wanted were shapes of grey and some outlines. Even the ragged edges of the photopolymer wouldn’t matter, as my intention would be to degrade it.
This is the single image.
I like these imperfect photo polymers, for the range of tones you get, for the juxtaposition of commercial typography or photographs with damaged surfaces, the fact that you have a “perfect” image that is pockmarked by errors and accidents. There is a hint here of weathered stone, of gravestones falling into neglect.
Before degrading the plate and losing it, I intended to print this multiple times, as first as a brick wall- a single sheet of damp paper, working quickly- this was hard to do- the plate slipped in the printer ( I should have stuck it down somehow) and the alignment didn’t work, making this an ineffective image. I tried using slight colour variations, and missing bricks, but it didn’t help.
So the next stage was to print my series. This is a series of prints showing degeneration from image to image, created by cracking, filing, scratching, cutting and breaking- both the photopolymer and the Perspex are very brittle and crack and split leaving interesting patterns. There is a top to bottom orientation as the images are progressively more broken. The images are made in three series of three, then a final one made of scattered pieces.
The images reform themselves progressively as the geometric brick like structure gets eroded into a much more organic state, from factory made to animalistic, like a reversion from industrialism to nature. Towards the end they become skull-like, again referencing the grave. The last one could be hopeful or hopeless. I deliberately placed the pieces as if to suggest taking flight. But it could equally be randomly scattered.
Technically, I was kicking myself for using the wrong side of the Fabriano paper for the first pages. The range of marks is lovely, and the woven texture of the paper is just beautiful.