[…] Every piece in the edition is supposed to look exactly the same. Any copies that are noticeably different from the others are excluded. The amount of variation tolerated in an edition varies from artist to artist, from piece to piece, from context to context. There is no “perfect” edition—every edition contains the very thing (variation, difference) that cancels its mode of being, that activates its mode of becoming. […]
Where does the value of a hand printed object come from? Does that value result from the scarcity of the handmade object? Or does it come from the amount of labor and the quality of the raw materials invested in the object? Almost certainly some combination of all these things, with, perhaps, the desire of “the market” always reigning supreme. But let’s take a look at this labor, this work, that supposedly inheres in the hand-printed object.
The labor of the artist/printer is valued, and so it seems safe to say that the presence of the artist/printer in the process of making is valued. But if every copy in an edition is supposed to look exactly the same, how is that labor-presence being real-ized? Generally speaking, we do not want to see our printers in our printed objects. The printer must become a machine, or a part of the machine, or a machine-like absence. The self dissolves, becoming a dispersed, motivating energy for the process. The printer is not there. Any sign of the printer, of the made-ness of the thing, is considered a flaw.
[…] It can be said that the matrix is actually these two things: the object containing the information that re-produces the object-in-multiple, and the manner in which that information is actually used to carry out the production. Every matrix is information plus action. […]
But we are supposed to see the artist, through their “style,” in the image. The artist’s presence is allowed in the construction of the information-matrix. The artist’s presence, and that guaranteeing authority, is necessary for the object to exist in an art context. The gathering and construction of the information-matrix requires an artist. The use of the action-matrix requires a printer. There is a separation of labor (and power) here, and that separation allows a physical separation of artist and printer—the artist does not have to be the one printing her own art. (This is one of the oldest outsourcing arrangements in the art world. Actually, workshop-oriented, dispersed production was the norm before the advent of “modern” art.) But the printmaker (the artist/printer) is split in her own process, always there, but there and not there, flickering between a human presence and a machine absence.
Is the printer, essentially, just another part of the assemblage of the matrix? What kinds of meanings can the manipulation of that assemblage produce?
[The] process of [the stripe paintings was] simple-minded…. But it was a lot more intense; just doing those things, painting those stripes one after another is quite enervating and numbing. It’s physically fairly exacting…I couldn’t keep it up. The physical concentration…it was just a different kind of way of being a different kind of process. But the process was everything then, as it is now.