Saturday, October 8, 2011

Analogue Swallows Digital

Last week I attended Impact7, billed as the "international multi-disciplinary printmaking conference", at Monash University in Melbourne.  This is the seventh in a series of conferences that began in England in 1999.  The core subject-matter of the conference was traditional printmaking: woodcuts, drypoint, etching and so forth.  However, there were a substantial number of presentations referring to digital media, and presentations exploring links between print-making and artists' book, zines, photography and graphic design.  There was also considerable discussion of education in the visual arts.  In the four days there were nearly 150 presentations (talks and demonstrations) and a substantial number of exhibitions.

I was curious to know how the traditional print-makers have reacted to the invasion of their field by Photoshop, inkjet printers and so forth.  The answer appears to be that the new methods have simply been incorporated into print-making practice: there were repeated references to the new technologies as providing just another set of tools, and discussion of the "expanded field" of print-making.  Analogue has swallowed digital.  Whatever debate there was in the printmaking community about digital media is now over, though occasionally concern was expressed that the "hand" of the artist might be missing.  I did hear a response to the effect that the mind of the artist is more important.

My own presentation argued that the computer can be more than a tool and that having outsourced the work of the artist's hand to machines, we are now starting to outsource the work of the artist's mind to machines also.

No comments:

Post a Comment