Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Ink & I

So here's a fun little series I did a few weeks back for one of my digital imaging classes. We were doing "scanner art" (I was the only one calling it that, I think) for an assignment: putting things on a scanner, scanning them, and doing little editing before printing them as pieces.

I have a decent collection of india inks and acrylic inks, which I like to draw with using colour shapers from time to time. So I got the idea into my head of putting ink (wet stuff!) on the scanner (electrical device, oh no!) and letting it run wild. It was a sort of exploration of the relationship between the artist and the artist's medium. Is it a partnership, with artist and medium cooperating to produce? A dictatorship by the artist in which all movement is tightly controlled? More of a master and assistant interaction, with the artist making most movements and the medium as the assistant to make creative suggestions here and there?

In art, as in many other fields, there is a theory of children producing the only "pure" art, creating without outside influence playing into their thought or process. When others, parents or teachers or friends or whatnot, step in and offer direction or commentary, the purity of the child's ability is tainted, and thereafter all art has borders and control forced into its every fiber.

It felt to me as if the ink were representative of the pure child, and I was the kindergarten teacher who stepped in to instill method over madness. Both of us could produce beauty, but was one product more beautiful than another?

How it was done: I placed an empty picture frame on the scanner to act as a containing wall, then placed saran wrap inside to protect the scanner from the ink. Then I dumped ink on that saran wrap and let it run wild. I could only choose when to hit SCAN. I could not "preview" a scan, since the ink would have moved again by the time I approved a preview. After that, I could only choose scans to include in the series, and the only editing I did was to straighten the cedar picture frame before printing. The pieces where I stepped in and took away the ink's freedom to create as it would were done by removing the picture frame and pulling up the saran wrap (in the diptych part), or by pressing pieces of ripped up paper and my hand into the runaway ink before balling it up into a form (the triptych part).

Overall, this series was fun to execute. I have a tendency to look for projects that will be fun for me to make rather than impressive to view. Still, my instructor took it from me to put on display for a week, which made it the second of my pieces this semester that was chosen to be put on display. I'm on a roll!