The Power of the Tangible

There’s an article on Politico by Jack Shafer questioning the success of print newspapers’ jump to invest in digital versions. After all this time physical prints still have higher perceived value than the digital versions.

…online editions tend to be perceived as inferior to the paid-for print product because they’re free, plus the “tangible” nature of newsprint gives it an edge in readers’ minds over the pixel product.

This is, of course, very human. Even in the face of so much intangible passing around our culture, we are still hard-wired to value material objects and tangible markers of time.

I’ll point you in the direction of Ellen Dissanayake for some of the reasons.

Early on as a printmaker I latched on to the poetic righteousness of Print’s role in marking time and disseminating knowledge. It is still one of the things that drives my days.

Here’s to the hope that on the other side of this era of cultural upheaval there are some really great steakhouse quality newspapers waiting for us.

(Read the article for that analogy to make sense.)

Printmaking and Catalan Independence

Catalonians are fighting to vote on whether to secede from Spain.

In this week’s On the Media journalist Vincent Partal speaks about the roll of media in the Catalan independence referendum: Catalonia Crackdown.

Partal mentions the importance of printed materials in the battle between Spanish and Catalonian officials. In an attempt to stop the referendum voting the Spanish government confiscated pamphlets, posters, and ballots.

In response Catalonians printed new ballots in a secret location (see video above) and created posters that could be printed at home.

Print Power and democratic distribution in action.

Kristen Schaal is a Horse

Kristen on a horse

A still from Bob’s Burgers episode Warf Horse

Sorry, this post has nothing to do with Bob’s Burgers but it IS about Kristen Schaal’s genius (she voices the little lady in the pink eared hat in the image above) and there IS a horse… sooo… yeah.

 

There’s a joke that I like to tell. It’s the Two Whales joke. If you’ve heard me tell it you’ll remember. Ask me the next time I see you.

The humor of the joke depends on repetition and a kind of variation in performance that as a viewer I can find super annoying unless it’s done really well. I’m not going to tell you the secret of the Two Whale joke here, just in case you do find an opportunity to ask me about it.

But Radio Lab explains repetition specifically loops and they begin the show with a clip of Kristen Schaal and Kurt Braunohler performing Kristen Schaal is a Horse.

Our delightful pattern seeking brains see something looping or repeating and we instantly ask, why? Why is this __unit__ repeating?

In the case of Kristen Schaal is a Horse…well… you should listen to this:

Kristen Schaal is a Horse on Radio Lab’s Loops Episode

Again, again, over and over – that’s when it starts to get interesting.

 

 

 

Dear John

“Schoenberg said that everything is repetition – even variation. On the other hand, we can say that repetition doesn’t exist, that two leaves of the same plant are not repetitions of each other but are unique. Or two bricks on the building across the street are different. And when we examine them closely, we see that they are indeed different in some respect, if only in the respect of how they receive light, because they are at different points in space. In other words, repetition really has to do with how we think. And we can’t think either that things are being repeated or that they are not being repeated. If we think that things are being repeated, it is generally because we don’t pay attention to all of the details. But if we pay attention as though we were looking through a microscope to all of the details, we see that there is no such thing as repetition.”   —  John Cage

 

Oh, John.

I taught a four week workshop in Venice this past summer and while there multiples and copies were in the forefront of my mind.

Last year I presented a paper at Mid-America Print Council’s conference, Modes of the Multiple – I talked about variation and repetition as pursuits in art. I wrapped painting, photography, prints, GIFS, and Book Arts into my talk. Writing the paper inspired me to continue to collect ideas, reference points, artworks, and theories about multiples.

This process of collecting ideas and artworks has gotten kinda unwieldy, crossing from conversations and note taking to fully formed thoughts. So I thought I’d start setting down some of my collection here in a series of blog posts.

While collecting I expanded my definition of reproducible media from image and mark replication (printmaking / photography) to include all forms of mechanical object making. It was an intuitive expansion, probably the result of being raised at Penland School of Crafts where different media easily crawl all over each other in a happy jumble,

The concepts play out in different forms: casting (metal, clay, glass), digital and analog printing, digital fabrication, repeat patterns, Xerographic printing, publications / book art and design, paper-making, textiles, photography, graphic design, product design, and more.

If I cast (ha! pun!) a wide net for conceptual links there are really interesting relationships between all reproducible media:the multiple, seriality, intermediary process, copy/original, replication, sequence, transference of mark, plurality, industrialization, and standardization… to name just a few.

And so it was with that eye that I first approached my art viewing this past summer. It helped me to clarify for myself, to find the edges, and some of my main questions about what can be included in reproducible media. Does it include collaged ephemera? Performance? What about the daily tides of the sea?

Starting here are some of the threads I’ve been gathering as a  basis for understanding this large subsection of artistic practice – Reproducible Media.

Again, again, over and over – that’s when it starts to get interesting.

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