WORKS ON PAPER
In 2012 I made a book from the series "I Never Promised You Anything." It was an experience of adjusting my expectations when it came to reproducing an image. I wondered if the original meaning of a image could be changed by merely making a close imitation. And could a book be similar to how John Berger described the camera in "Ways of Seeing."
"The camera, by making work of art transmittable, has multiplied its possible meanings and destroyed its unique original meaning. Have works of art gained anything by this? They have lost and gained."
Choosing my book's paper (and how many inks were laid down) made me aware that any decision I made would affect how the images were rendered. I had to accept that a different printing process would change the hues and tones of the original. There would be a translation.
As I looked at many book examples I pulled Wilmes’s “Ellsworth Kelly: Black & White” from my shelf. I love these paintings but what I got fixed on was how the designer had to adjust the reproductions to best represent Kelly's whites. His paintings were photographed on a wall (I assumed a white wall). To separate the painting (or image of the painting) from the book’s paper, white had to be shifted to beige; black became more solid. So I strayed from the subject of Kelly’s paintings and focused on the colors in the book – black, white, beige with tones of grey (but never entirely neutral).
As a general rule we make work that conflicts us. My recent conflict is the act of choosing to print my new images of paper. I admit I am in love with the printing process. Although unnecessary today, the time spent watching an image come to life is entertaining. The payoff comes after making necessary adjustments–sometime minor, sometimes frustrating. Ultimately I'd like to enter the image’s space. But in reality I cannot. I can read the image due to its form, light, shadow but as I get closer I bump my head against the print’s surface. The paper can be touched but not the object represented. It is an imitation. It is only in my mind.
I want to continue to think and make images that resolve questions about abstraction. I believe this happens when I have to justify (for myself) a process and presentation of an image. Sometimes I'm sidetracked by the fantasy of images living in the ether. But the space or surface of paper is where I’m currently fixed. I am truly a printmaker that enjoys the act of distancing myself from the original.
Lastly it gives me comfort to know that Beckett says it is the artist’s task to find a form that accommodates the mess. I think that's what I'm always trying to do. Being confused is more interesting than knowing. However, this is mostly true after there is some clarity. It just doesn't feel as good while it's in progress.