Through the Glass Darkly – Appropriation, Remaking and Representation through Print
Thirkell, P. and Hoskins, S. (2009) Through the Glass Darkly – Appropriation, Remaking and Representation through Print. In: The Art of Appropriation & Kurt Schwitters in England, University of Chester, 10-11 July 2009. [Unpublished]
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This paper will examine the incidence of appropriation and re-representation that emerged in fine art image and object making during the early 20th century. It specifically aims to trace the role of emerging forms of technology in facilitating new ways of conceptualising, capturing and re-materialising found objects ranging from the initial late 19th century methods of low & high quality photographic, print and object reproduction to those of the present digitally mediated age. The presentation will examine how pioneering artists such as Duchamp, Schwitters and Ernst exploited the strengths, weaknesses and even aura of new technology as a means of conceptually mediating, creating and shaping an artwork. The question of authenticity, original and reproduction in relation to such works has been an enduring one age, however, based on artists intention and the ever increasing expansiveness of technology available, new and essential dialogues have filtered from the avant-garde into the mainstream. The paper will present some of the possibilities afforded by the engagement, and indeed appropriation of different kinds of often industrially designed technology that has found its way into the artist’s hand and reach. As well as examining the foundations of this technological engagement, reference will be made to a series of recent projects undertaken by the Centre for Fine Print Research in Bristol working with artists such as Leslie Dill (US), Richard Hamilton, Richard Slee and Joe Tilson and (UK) who have continued to engage with the tradition of appropriation. These examples range from the creation of new interactive artworks that fuse together poetry and photography (in the case of Leslie Dill), the transformation or ‘transubstantiation’ (as Duchamp termed the concept) of one artists work through another (in the case of Richard Hamilton’s print ‘The Typo Topography of Marcel Duchamp’s Large Glass), the re-orientation of found objects (by Richard Slee) and the restoration of artworks to re -fulfil the initial aims of a work from the 60’s (in the case of Joe Tilson). Throughout each of these case studies, the presentation will highlight the influences, and precedents set by, early 20th century avant - garde artists on our current engagement with new technology. This ranges from the way it can be used to animate new ideas through to the varying degrees in which existing ideas and objects can be re-animated. As well as 2D reproduction, the presentation will reveal the emerging possibilities of 3D digital capture, creation and output that have come about through object scanning and full colour rapid prototype output. The parameters of its ability to generate either a new aesthetic or simulate those of others will be assessed in relation to the current generation of technology available to the artist.
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