the Gates to the Barbarians
by Mike Booth
Besides the aforementioned traditional printmaking media, artists both young and old now have access to some fascinating new digital tools: the computer, the scanner, the digital printer and the Internet, all of which are playing a major role in forging the future of the fine-art print-or whatever you want to call it. Therein lies the rub: What do you want to call it? For almost four years now World Printmakers has been laboring under the weight of a centuries-old definition of the "fine-art print." In practice this meant rejecting any work which wasn't "hand pulled."
Edge of the Wedge
Printmakers share the new digital tools with graphic designers, photographers, animators, illustrators, video artists, cinematographers, journalists, musicians... Due to this community of resources, all of these disciplines and many more are experiencing digital seep. They're melting into one another lasciviously, exchanging their DNA's and throwing up fascinating-and for some as frightening as a 50's science fiction film-- mutant offspring.
What Ever Happened
to Peaceful Coexistence?
The problem-if it's a problem-with digital printmaking is that, being made up solely of bytes of information, it overlaps with everything else in the burgening digital world. An example of this phenomenon is the digital manipulation of photographs to create "digital prints," a procedure which is now entering into the printmaking mainstream thanks to pioneering work by artists like Mel Strawn, Ken Kerslake and Dot Krause in the U.S.A. In fact, this seemingly unlikely marriage of printmaking and photography was foreseen many years ago when the U.S. Library of Congress established its "Department of Prints and Photography," without bothering to distinguish clearly one from the other. If that slippery, amorphous and promiscuous criterion is good enough for the august Library of Congress, it's certainly good enough for us.
Some people see these changes as a tragedy, the bastardization of "pure printmaking," others see them as an opportunity. Will we soon be seeing "prints" with music and animation displayed on monitors hung over our fireplaces?
Image is the Thing
Kilfish is a 31-year-old artist from Budapest, Hungary. His principal art is website design, but he also creates images, unusual, disquieting digital images. He doesn't call them "digital prints" or even "prints." He refers to them, somewhat ingenuously, as his "pictures." As soon as I saw them I thought, "This is the sort of creative images we need more of on World Printmakers, but they're not prints, they're, well, 'pictures.'" Then it hit me, the foolishness and small mindedness of that whole fine-art-print tempest in a bell jar.
Heart of the Matter
So World Printmakers is off on a new departure. We're opening the creaky old city gates to the lusty barbarians who are coming down from the north armed with digital drawing tablets, scanners, inkjet printers and, most lethal of all, feral fresh ideas. Even so, we suspect the sun will still come up tomorrow.
Images by Kilfish
Us | Advertise
Gifts | Articles/Interviews
| Authenticity | Business
| Charo's Collection