Friday, 11 April 2014

Theory Into Practice - Initial Thoughts & Ideas

To get started on the next part of the CoP module I firstly read back through my essay and highlighted points that I felt could form the basis of or help form the basis of my practical piece.

I mind mapped various points made in the essay and some thoughts from these, but this was still very broad.

This was still very broad but I said to myself, what do you want to say with this practical piece, and the reason I chose this essay subject is because I disagree with the argument that print is becoming redundant due to technology and my essay I feel/hope suggests that it is not becoming redundant as print offers qualities that digital cannot. 

So I then went through my essay and found more specific parts that I felt could link to a practical piece or raised more specific problems that I could solve.


Walter Benjamin argues that through reproducibility aura is lost.

‘It makes as little sense to ask for an ‘original’ or ‘authentic’ photographic or lithographic print as it does to ask for the ‘original’ of a jpeg.’ (Benjamin, in Barnard. 2005. p176). 

With this Benjamin explains how an ‘original’ jpeg holds no aura due to its lack of physicality or unique qualities, and he is ultimately suggesting digital images have no value because of this.  However, he also states with this that print is just as invaluable as such digital images, as they are now just as easily reproduced. But I would like to change this perception as I definitely feel print holds more value as more traditional methods of print still often produce limited quantities of prints and they can provide effects and a more tactile nature that also add aura and value.


The book was previously seen as an art form with the hours of human craft involved, which meant they were more difficult to reproduce, and Mumford explains this with the following quote.

‘How unique and precious books were, how well respected they were as works of art, we know from the state they come down to us in: no scrawls in the margins!’ (Mumford. 1952. p70).

Mumford explains that because they were seen as art forms they were held in a higher regard and treated much better, with more respect than they do today. This made me think about the book now and how I could try and get people to appreciate books and their form again. I personally love books, I love their physicality's and turning each page and the sense of ownership that you don't get from simply reading something online or on screen. Therefore I think I would enjoy looking into this and trying to change people's perceptions, but I would need to think about who I would aim this at and what I could produce to change people's thoughts. 


My essay then goes on to talk about how human qualities have been lost from the production process and this has reduced the value and assigned aura of print. 

‘to receive a letter written in their beautiful hands is to remind one of all that has been lost by our overreliance upon the machine’ (Mumford. 1952. p72). 

This talks about calligraphy which is a possible area to look into on its own or perhaps with hand writing in general, as hand writing is far more personal than a typed piece of text as obviously this is unique to the individual and as mentioned in the essay unique qualities add value. 

Calligraphy is an art form and a craft in itself that has been forgotten, but perhaps I could try and revive the art form, but I am not sure whether this would really link to my argument that print is not redundant. Hand writing however is an interesting link from this as it is a method of communication that is becoming less common in our modern world, we tweet, text, email, etc. but rarely write letters or postcards. I think reminding people of the values of handwriting could be an interesting area to explore. 


Another point raised in my essay was the widely accessible nature of the internet in comparison to the more limited nature of printed products and the physicality's and sense of ownership from these. This is a strong argument that print still holds value and aura and is as a result not being made redundant. Perhaps I could produce a run of screen printed posters, that would be limited in their production, perhaps numbered to show this. But then I would need to think about my audience, if I aim the prints at print lovers then I wouldn't really be making a point as I want to communicate that print is still relevant and has value to people who don't agree with this or that don't really have an opinion. 


There are tactile qualities with printed media that cannot be replicated on screen and so add value to print. 

‘The reproduction of the tactile qualities of life and language constitute the refinement sought in the renaissance and repudiated now in the electronic age.’ (McLuhan. 2003. p283)

The tactile nature of print is another reason why I love it so I think I would enjoy trying to communicate this in some way. However, I don't think I would focus on this as a sole focus for the practical element but whatever printed product I produce I want it to be as tactile as possible considering stock choices, inks and possibly interactivity to get the audience really feeling the print. 


As there are now so many digital methods of printing the more traditional methods are in some ways being forgotten as these new methods mean reproduction is much faster. However, as Lewis explains in this quote the more traditional methods should now be used to create effect and we should take advantage of the qualities they offer as we no longer rely on them for everyday printing.

‘The digital age has transformed the tools available and the processes by which creative ideas are realized. The functionality of earlier production methods has been emulated or superseded by the new technology. However, it would be a fallacy to think traditional methods have been or will be entirely replaced: they are still valid, often with a different role. These processes represent ways of thinking, as well as ways of getting results. While these older techniques may no longer be the only or most dominant means of production, they can be employed for effect rather than through necessity.’ (Lewis. 2005)

In a way this is like taking print back to being an art form which definitely implies the positives of print and why it does hold aura as it can be a hands on, very human craft. This made me think about how I could use one specific printing process and take advantage of the qualities it offers, that cannot be achieved through digital technology. 

Other Ideas & Development

At this stage I felt I had quite a lot of vague ideas but needed to really refine what I wanted to do and achieve through this brief. I also wanted whatever I produced to have a purpose and a lot of my current ideas didn't!

I remembered Amber saying in the last briefing that if your essay was about print you could even just exhaust one method of print and then document your results in an interesting way. I thought about what method I would use if I were to do something like this and then I thought about lino cutting. Lino cut is a very direct print process in which you cut into a piece of lino and then print this through a printing press. This would almost be like taking print back to basics simply printing a made stamp.

However, I then started to think about how I could incorporate this into a more realistic product that could be used by the public. This lead me to think about a gift pack that could be sold in perhaps gallery gift shops that would include stamps that I could laser cut, an ink pad and even a book explaining a bit about the history of print.

But I then started to question why this would be useful, who would want this? People in gallery gift shops would more than likely have an interest in such things as they would be in an environment looking at art. I was also put off by the idea of working with linocut as when i have worked with this method in the past the results have been quite unprofessional and I want to create something that visually gets people excited about print. 

So I then thought back to some of the points I pulled from my essay and thought about the book as an art form. When previously thinking about this I thought about how I could get people to appreciate books again and appreciate their craft. Obviously my first thought was to create a book but I then thought what would I need to include to make it a high quality, well crafted book and who would I aim this at. 

I then started to think about a children's book as I thought that the younger age group are those that are growing up into the very digital environment so if I could get this age group to appreciate print and the form of a book this could be beneficial for the future. 

You can see I started to draw out some quick ideas for inside the book, I thought about including pop-ups, pockets for them to pull things out of, etc. a very hands on, interactive printed book. 

However, I then thought that this wouldn't actually be achieving what I wanted as this young age group wouldn't really appreciate the form of the book or the tactile nature they would just think it was fun maybe, and such books are still widely produced for this audience whereas it is more teenagers that are becoming obsessed with technology. 

This lead me to think about digital natives
This is something I looked into as part of my design for print brief for 504 and I found it really interesting. The term refers to someone who was born during or after the general introduction of digital technologies, and through growing up around such technology they have a far greater understanding of it. This understanding also however means they are more reliant on it and through interacting with technology at a greater level have less of an appreciation for printed matter. 

I would like to look into this in some more detail as I think this would be a perfect target audience to aim my product at and this gives me almost a problem to solve - 

Get digital natives to pay attention to/appreciate/make them aware of printed products. 

This will obviously need a lot more refinement and I still don't know what product I will create and what I want to do in order to get digital natives to pay attention to print, but I feel I have more of a focus now and feel this will clearly respond to my essay. 

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