I will be writing-designing-printing (making, that is) an insert to be included with the third issue of Mimeo Mimeo. The essay (the written essay, the visual essay, the structural essay) will be about “bad printing” and why it is good sometimes. I prefer the term “naughty printing” myself. The idea for it grew out the manifesto, and from some of the comments about it that I have received. It goes back to Andy Warhol’s comment on why he made his films the way that he did, paraphrased here: If you do it badly, people realize they’re watching a film.

So “bad printing” becomes a way to make the process legible, to leave the marks of the making visible. It is an idea related to the “unfinished” or “unrefined” canvases of the abstract expressionist painters. But a printer cannot assert themselves, their presence, in the same manner that a painter can. Printing is, by its nature, always removed, always always already. The printer is a machine-like absence, and it is only in the movement of the process of production that a trace of the printer can be found.

The traditional approach to printing, the “crystal goblet” approach, dictates that the printer should not show themselves in the final work, as to do so would interrupt the transmission of the contents, would leave fingerprints on the surface of the goblet, so to speak. I believe that this idea guides “fine art printmaking” as well, as far as the actual process of printing goes. Approaches to the construction of printing matrices are radically different, but the approach to printing remains fundamentally unchanged. There are, of course, always exceptions.

It would seem that this “crystal goblet” approach is very postmodern. Didn’t postmodernism begin with the suppression of the artist’s hand, with the readymade, the fabricated industrial object, and the simulacra of popular culture? The problem is, in printing, not showing one’s hand has always been the way to play. Printing never went through the same modernist-postmodernist development that painting did, except when it was chained to painting, (re)producing its already thought out, already authorized images.

Hal Foster (in the book Return of the Real, quoted here) puts forth the idea that the logic of seriality is central to modernism and postmodernism. Seriality comes directly from the printed object, and Modernism and its Post did as well. Printers, printmakers, have failed to acknowledge this in their work, beyond vague references through appropriated imagery. But the articulation of those concepts cannot come only through content, it must come through form, the processes of production, and the modes of reception as well.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What do you think then of digimodernism?