Posts Tagged 'Poetic'

Mono printing and text

Attentive reading, complete with careful note-taking, isn’t enough. Heresy? A simple recognition of my truth – which has taken me a while.

This isn’t cramming for an exam without a care for the info drop-out in the following week. It’s not skimming around, pulling together some facts and figures, some quotes and ideas, for an assignment. I’m reading to produce knowledge in me. It takes time – new ideas need to be tried out, connections made, existing knowledge reconsidered.

Making – moving from thought to materiality with knitting, weaving, paper, … – gives space and time for a different sort thinking. Critically, I have found that making which in some way responds to my reading becomes a form of knowledge production in its own right. It’s not just a distraction or filling in the time or simply another part of life – each project has allowed me deeper understanding of what I am reading, and to discover more about how I work and what is attracting my interest. However those earlier projects were all quite time and labour intensive. I wanted to mix it up with something a bit quicker, a bit more responsive to the moment.

Project outline
Monoprinting. It’s quick, versatile, responsive. Plus it’s something I’ve done a fair amount of before (blog search results), so building on skills.

Imagery – build on reading, so glyphs, experiment with what a humanist data viz could look with, plus continue to mine my history with stamps, stencils etc from previous work.

Text – the new element. A curiosity about “poetic” has been growing (see for example the reading scarf project (7-Jan-2020) and recent threads (18-Jan-2020)). I’ve been attempting to write poetic snippets, based on a reference in Jane Hirshfield. All very cringe-worthy, but I feel attempting it myself might make it easier to see and understand what people who know what they are doing are actually doing. I’ve never been successful with getting text into a monoprint.

Session 1: cobweb removal, first text idea
* Akua liquid pigments
* gelatin plate
* glyph stencils cut in paper
* general approach based on Linda Germain video (this link goes to a page on her website, with a mini-course for the price of your contact details).
* computer printed text on monoprint

Results: Space made, tools and materials found, cobwebs disturbed.
A selection:

First text attempt: chose one of the lighter monoprints, scanned it, and opened in gimp. Used image to decide size, font, colour and placement of text. Using the text layer only, printed the result onto the original monoprint.

I’m quite happy with this result – quick and accurate. However I’m not convinced by the regularity of the font on a very informal print.

Second text attempt: Scanned in a monoprint. Hand wrote one of my snippets and scanned that in. In an attempt to integrate text and print I added a faint extra layer, an enlarged and distorted version of the text. I printed the full image – the scan of the monoprint and both layers of text. This means the original monoprint is unchanged.

The result is … alright. I don’t have strong feelings about it. Perhaps the approach could be useful in some future application.

Session 2: Introduction to monoprinting workshop with Kirtika Kain
This workshop was in the studio of Gallery Lane Cove – Kirtika’s work was on exhibit upstairs at the time (20-Jan-2020). Kirtika was very ambitious for a three hour course. To help us build concepts and ideas, we started with 20 minutes of stream of consciousness writing, then some time mind-mapping, exploring words and themes that resonated. We all made monoprints using an A5 piece of acetate as a plate, backdrawing, and printing using barren and press. Next came making and use of stencils, plus other objects as a mask. Running short of time, Kirtika demonstrated drypoint etching on the acetate, and both intaglio and relief printing, then a final burst attempting chine-collé. It was full-on, and I don’t know how the other four students, all I think quite new to print-making, coped. For me it was great as a refresher and energizer.

My “designs” were based on thoughts of humanist data viz and the distorted grid. Messy and unclear, but there’s an energy I like.
A selection:

My first backdrawing included some overall scratching with fingers, and produced a cloudy jumble. The second attempt I tried hard to keep clean, pressing only with the pencil while backdrawing. I love that line! Of course the y-axis is wrong, I need to mirror that… and so,

I needed to try mirror writing!

Session 3: mirror writing on acetate
* Akua intaglio ink
* acetate and gelatin plates
* mirror writing (mostly)

Outcomes:
Backwriting with biro (that had run out of ink), acetate plate

Ghost print

Akua intaglio on acetate; writing into inked surface with wooden skewer (direct, not mirror writing); stamped onto gelatin plate; printed off onto paper using brayer

I made the gelatin plate over four years ago. It has been used repeatedly, and between times sat in the garage with minimal protection. The clearer white dots above are pocks on the plate, not a product of the method. I think there’s some potential here (assuming I melt and reset the plate) – especially given the freedom of being able to write directly.

Not shown: Mirror backwriting, gelatin plate. Did not work.

Acetate plate, mirror writing into ink using a wooden skewer.

Session 4: extending
* Attempt longer text
* Think about page placement
* Combine text and other effects – some in this print session, some by using pages from previous sessions
* An additional method for monoprinted text
* Using yupo paper stencils as both stencil and as pre-inked stamp
* Acetate and gelatin plates

Some results:
Mirror backwriting on acetate plate.

In the print above, the ink of the biro used in backwriting shows through the paper and the transparent yellow plate ink. It assists legibility. However the ghost below is basically unreadable. The only point of interest is that I printed on what was intended to be the back of the page. Excluding the workshop prints, all of the work in this post is on paper originally used in the life drawing workshop with David Briggs last year (16-Feb-2019). Odd here, but could be something to play with… And now I look at the ghost again, it might work to write or paint (watercolour) the text into the blanks of the yellow…

A more complete attempt. More legible. Plus improving on placement (I’m edging towards an A5 booklet idea). The text is based on childhood memories of storms at the end of hot summer days. The infinity shape is my glyph for memory, the stamping is intended to suggest storms.

Experimenting with another text method – writing in printing ink onto acetate. Stamping that onto the gelatin plate, then printing off. Squelchy. I’d need to find a better way of managing the amount of ink in the writing.

Finally some general play.

I’m pretty happy with my results overall – not the individual pages, but in the options I now have to work responsively and relatively intuitively as a support to and extension of my other creative activity.

Reference
Jane Hirshfield Ten Windows, page 41

Gathering threads

A warning: this post is intended to be useful to me, and on the blog for the tools it gives me. If any of it is of use to others it will be by accident, not intent.

Exploring a new venture, going a bit further. An occasional bringing together of ideas – but no polish, no photos, travelling light.

Clusters of thought developing:

  • the poetic
  • observation
  • poetic, humanist graphing
  • how to read
  • In One Way Street, under the heading “Attested Auditor of Books”, Walter Benjamin presents an historic sequence of script – inscriptions on upright stones; manuscripts written on sloping desks; the horizontal bed of printing. A pause of a few hundred years here with the book, for script “a refuge in which it can lead an autonomous existence”. Winds of change from the late nineteenth century. Newspapers are read more vertical than horizontal, there are graphic tensions as Mallarmé and later the dada writers play with space, font, placement of text, while film and advertising use the “dictatorial” perpendicular. Script is “pitilessly dragged out into the street”.

    And suddenly something written almost a century ago is incredibly modern – “… the chances of [a modern reader] penetrating the archaic stillness of the book are slight. Locust swarms of print, which already eclipse the sun of what city dwellers take for intellect, will grow thicker with each succeeding year.” Information overload, social media – we are overwhelmed with print. Print on the hard, vertical surfaces of phone and computer.

    So a nice statement of a challenge. For me the kicker is Benjamin’s “qualitative leap” responding to all this quantity, with writing moving further into graphic regions. “In this picture-writing, poets, who will now as in the earliest times be first and foremost experts in writing, will be able to participate only by mastering the fields in which (quite unobtrusively) it is being constructed: statistical and technical diagrams.” The poetics of data visualization!

    Beautifully leading to Johanna Drucker. Previously (7-Jan-2020) I wrote that Graphesis: Visual forms of knowledge production takes a very wide view, almost a survey of the literature. The information is condensed, so can be difficult. A section on “Humanist Methods” was fascinating, exciting, relevant – and difficult. Until… following the footnotes, I found Drucker’s original paper – http://www.digitalhumanities.org/dhq/vol/5/1/000091/000091.html on the Digital Humanities Quarterly (DHQ) website – “an open-access, peer-reviewed, digital journal covering all aspects of digital media in the humanities.”

    For now, I’m trying to keep focus. There may be riches beyond the dreams of avarice on that site. That’s for other days. The current excitement is that the paper on the website is the complete version with all the explanatory bits of what was difficult and condensed in the book.

    This is getting turgid, so time for some dotpoints.

  • All data is capta. Looking for a succinct explanation I found “Capta is not data as we typically understand data. Capta represents what is seen, thought and felt. Capta, according to phenomenologists, is the ‘data of the conscious experience’. ” (https://www.informationweek.com/big-data/big-data-analytics/capta-the-data-of-conscious-experience/a/d-id/282625). There is interpretation. The observer is always a participant. A simple example: a bar chart may show hospital admissions by gender, male and female. That’s still often standard, but that simple binary is an assumption, and highly problematic. A count of national population may not include temporary migrant workers. Is time fixed intervals or as experienced (time waiting for a bus = coffee with a friend?).
  • Every metric is a factor of X (the phenomenon) – potential factors: a point of view; agenda; assumption; presumption; convention. A “self evident fact” is a constructed interpretation.
  • Complexity, ambiguity, gaps can be hidden and distorted in graphs.
  • A humanistic approach entails qualitative display of graphical information. “By definition, a humanist approach is centered in the experiential, subjective conditions of interpretation.” (page 130 of book).
  • What could this mean in data viz? Time becomes temporality, and instead of a neat, consistent, linear progression could have folds, loops, whorls, arrows of force, gaps, changes of scale… Think about that coffee – as anticipated, experienced, remembered, by you and by your friends, or observers.

    Drucker concludes her paper “[Graphical expressions of humanistic interpretation] are as different from the visual display of quantitative information as a close reading of a poem is from the chart of an eye tracker following movements across a printed page.”

    It feels like something I should know – but what is poetry? when or why is something poetic? Jane Hirshfield when discussing Bashō writes of “… a tool for emotional, psychological and spiritual discovery, for crafting new experience as moving, expansive and complex of ground…” (I’ve twisted the quote out of context). Some relevant ideas/techniques:

  • juxtaposition, transformation
  • the recognition of impermanence, ceaseless alteration, interdependence
  • (An aside: In the context of chaos theory Drucker writes of dynamic unfolding, transformation, adaptation and emergence. An interesting correspondence of language. And thinking of poetic language, some more from Drucker: “These graphical tools are a kind of intellectual Trojan horse, a vehicle through which assumptions about what constitutes information swarm with potent force.” (my italics, but look back at Benjamin). A dry start, but startling imagery at the end.)

  • the beauty of the most ordinary circumstances and objects (wabi)
  • test ideas against the realities of observation
  • (A jump to Leopardi who claimed fine arts give pleasure by the imitation of nature, with objects imitated “beauty, memory, the attention that is paid to things that we see every day without noticing them, etc”.)

    (And back to Drucker, who pushes for more nuanced presentation of ambiguity and uncertainty, with observer-independent reality a presumption, not a given. “Data are capta, taken not given, constructed as an interpretation of the phenomenal world, not inherent in it.” )

  • an aesthetic of transparence and lightness
  • pointing to both the world and the self
  • Slowing down. I’m writing this in part because attentive reading and careful notetaking isn’t enough. I need to integrate what I am reading into my mental structures. I used to think of this structure as a scaffolding or framework, giving context, a holding place and a place to build on. Now it seems more like a rubbery network of connections that shifts and adapts and accommodates and absorbs – and if all goes well allows me to extract as required.

    More on reading and note-taking: Walter Benjamin claimed “Only the copied text thus commands the soul of him who is occupied with it, whereas the mere reader never discovers the new aspects of his inner self that are opened by the text, the road cut through the interior jungle forever closing behind it; because the reader follows the movement of his mind in the free flight of daydreaming, whereas the copier submits it to command.” Obviously not mindless copying, but this has encouraged me to make more extensive notes, longer direct quotes. Leopardi in Zibaldone also appears to make extensive use of quotations.

    It’s still not enough. Sometimes it takes me a long time to see the obvious, but I’ve been coming to acceptance that I can’t “squeeze all the juice out” no matter how attentive the reading. I need to grow and learn, and in the kind of books I am reading there will always be more to find. Plus each time I read, it is as a different person. Maybe this is a good place to circle back to Jane Hirshfield: “haiku remind us that a person should not become too fixed in a singular sense of what the self might consist of or how, or where it might reside.”

    In what feels a bizarre and futile quest for completeness here I introduce an essay by Umberto Eco – “Intertextual irony and levels of reading”. This essay was my morning reading for five consecutive days. Many times I was bewildered, despondent, angry, frustrated, defensive. Basically I don’t have and will never have the wide knowledge of literature to recognise any but the most obvious allusions to other texts. I’ve started too late, but in any case that’s not the game I want to play. So I will take what works for me, and turn it to my own uses. That, over all that I’m reading, is still plenty. More than enough. And always more to come.

    Hopefully taking time to gather together strands from reading will help take me further, intensifying the impact of my reading. I’ve found Making connected to reading, such as the recent scarf (11-Jan-2020), opens up my understanding and response. So Making as knowledge production.

    Other threads bubbling :

  • Challenges of translation. In Eco and Leopardi.
  • Provocation. Drucker describes her paper as a provocation to a larger project.
  • Exploration versus outcome. Asimov in Second Foundation: “Finished products are for decadent minds.”
  • Metadata and tagging. Leopardi’s slips, Benjamin’s “three-dimensionality of script” in card indexes
  • Reading period: 5 – 15 January 2020


    Calendar of Posts

    April 2020
    M T W T F S S
     12345
    6789101112
    13141516171819
    20212223242526
    27282930  

    Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Archives

    Categories