Ringer

Completed 2011. digital carbon print on prepared cotton rag paper, 15 x 22 inches.
Collection of the artist

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The first Amish inkjet print edition is finished, and thanks to the recent kickstarter project, it’s mostly spoken for. As of this writing, there are only four prints remaining from the edition of 15. The edition sold out – not a bad way to begin!

If you’ve followed along with this project, you might be asking: “What took so long? And hey, that doesn’t look much different from what ¬†you showed us a month ago, what gives?” Well, read on.

I started this print with a black and white reproduction of one of my paintings. That’s what you see in the experimental sample print in the previous post. Compare the “before” snapshot from that post with the “after” one at the bottom of this one— can you see the difference?

Now, here’s the back story: I very much believe that paintings are special images because they give human touch a visual form. When you look at a painting, the physical touch of the painter is part of what you experience with your eye. When one of my paintings gets run through a camera, some of this special quality dies. Maybe this happens because of the loss of surface texture or the change in scale. It’s just different– and that’s okay, I like that the original painting is irreproducible. That way, even if you’ve seen a painting in reproduction, you still get something extra when you meet the original one in real life!

But it makes this business of working with a reproduction tricky. I won’t make dead art! So if we are going to make a print that is living, breathing art– there’s some work to do.

Reworking an intermediate state of "Ringer"
Reworking an intermediate state of “Ringer”

I spent the past month running this particular image through the loop with the souped-down Amish inkjet and its homebrew carbon ink set as the output. Each time I printed a new version of the image, I’d tack it up on the wall make adjustments using black and white acrylic paint. then the adjusted image would get run back through the loop and the new version printed with the printer. Then I’d adjust again. In this way I gradually redrew the image so that the result would sing, have air, and breathe at this reduced scale and in the wildly abstracted world of black and white. When the image began to flicker the way one of the full-size paintings does, I knew it was going well! The process is much like tuning a guitar. There are overtones that you listen for, and you keep adjusting until the dissonance fades and things add up loud and clear.

And so here you have our result. “Ringer” is in-tune with its final 15 by 22 inch printed form. It is as archival and permanent as I know how to make it at this point. And the warm carbon black shimmers gracefully on the gently iridescent paper that I prepared specially for this edition. It was worth the wait!

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