15 December 2005

So far I have received three prints in the mail from the print swap I’m involved in. Also we’ve been having some very interesting discussions as to the definitions of the term ‘print’ and peoples personal feelings and aesthetics towards different print mediums. One big point that keeps coming up is people want to see differentiation between mediums and for them not to all be labeled ‘prints’ I’m not sure how I feel about this as I think it’s just like the term painting that has further subcategories ie acrylic, oils, water colours, inks and all sorts of other non art substances. Another problem I see with being too strict on definitions is that it doesn’t account for cross pollination of mediums, there is such a thing as a digital woodcut!
The main thing I think some printmakers are worried about is that if digital takes over their methods won’t be respected, valued, or understood as much. But I don’t think that just because there is a digital option, it will take over…it’s just like the printmaking medium has added another member to the family. I’ve done both digital and traditional printmaking and I enjoyed both. All I can say is that I think you just have to find one that suits your sensibilities and capabilities/means.
But so far the best explanation of heard of the term of print is this from a SSNW participant Judy:

“My definition of printmaking is not about the ability to produce
multiples or editions, which appear in many artforms. It seems to me
the thing that distinguishes 'printmaking' as opposed to other
techniques is that the image is not made directly. It is made in/on
one place (the plate, stamp, lino, computer etc) and then transferred
to another (paper, fabric, etc) by the process of printing.
Printmaking can then include monoprints, computer generated art,
stamps, etc. as well as more traditional forms.”

People then went on to say that, did this mean that photography is printmaking, which she answered:

“Yes, I'd call a photograph a print. I think the term 'print' has come
to embrace so many different techniques and processes that it has, in
a sense, become meaningless when used to describe an artwork. I prefer
to use 'etching' or 'screen print' or 'digital print' or whatever
rather than the all embracing 'print'.”

But I think he discussions that have been taking place apply to many different artforms. It reminds me of a line out of the chinese zen sutra called ‘Sandokai’

“Transposing, they are linked together; not transposing, each keeps its place.”

Often it is hard to understand that things are both joined and separate, at the same time. Photography is photography and printmaking is printmaking, but also photography is print making and printmaking is photography.


Anonymous said...

Well summarised :)

Lily and Lucy White said...

Well… And here I was pulling my hairs out about not having chance to experience printmaking, while I have been doing it all along…by indirect image transfer with gel medium and oil of wintergreen. Thanks for setting this in perspective! Lily.