Truth to Virtual Materials
Thirkell, P. (2009) Truth to Virtual Materials. In: Talking prints Lecture Series Lancashire Artists Network, University of Central Lancashire, June 2009.
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Throughout the twentieth century the concept of ‘truth to materials’ became an overriding factor in establishing the autonomy of print. By creating a sympathetic harmony between artistic intention, autographic gesture, the nature of the printing matrix and the manner in which the image was transferred to paper, an aesthetic language based on ‘cause and effect’ emerged. However, despite the gradual introduction of techniques that subtly subverted these established aesthetics in the 1960’s, the material qualities of the fine art print still continue to exert a major influence in both the conception and appreciation of prints. With the recent rise of digital imaging new questions about the physicality of prints have arisen. My work takes inspiration from an idea put forward by Max Ernst in 1919 regarding the poetic spark created when two or more mutually alien realities collide through the use of collage. It explores the seamless digital juxtaposition of various print mediated visual languages that have conditioned the transfer of knowledge throughout the era of mass production. In order to combine and reference such visual codes, I frequently work around the idea of pure reproduction, outputting the artwork in modes that also physically parallel their origin. For example in a recent series -‘Tree of Life Botany and Alchemy’-high quality inkjet transparencies have been used to generate intaglio plates in order to summon the essence of the original collaged components. This approach varies somewhat from the ‘all digital approach’ to print, harking back to the physical engagement with the process whilst also utilising the increased imaging powers of the computer to provide some physical truth to the use of virtual materials.