Are there qualities peculiar to the nature of printmedia that make it significantly different from other art processes and practices? I wondered about this question when I visited the exhibition Adventure & Art, the fine press book from 1450 to 2011, held at Melbourne University in March this year.
The exhibition included a single sheet from the Gutenberg Bible, printed circa 1454. The page was skilfully printed and extremely beautiful, and perhaps one of the most significant (and oldest) pieces of paper I have ever seen. Johann Gutenberg’s invention of moveable type in the fifteenth century initiated a powerful democratising force that revolutionised the Western world’s engagement with ideas and knowledge, via reproduction and the book.
A whole host of people - visual artists, writers, designers, printers and others - are called upon in the production of work in the artist book form, and this is most often a collaborative venture. The artist book asks questions about sequence, space and time, the relationship between form and content, and about the generation of meaning and its reception. Artist’s books are object as well as text. There is also a special relationship between the production of an artist book and the processes and technique of printmaking.
Given this background, printmaking practices ask questions about the power of a single image, and of the reproducibility of that image. The print might be both a single page of a book found only in one place, and also be limitless. And these questions, in the context of contemporary technologies that are shifting our experiences and sense of materials, immediacy and presence, give currency to our investigations in the Printmaking and Artist Book Studios.
We had a wonderful team in the Studios this year, and they encouraged our students to think broadly about their concepts, methods and research. Rosalind Atkins, Antonietta Covino-Beehre, Bridget Hillebrand, Yuho Imura, Jonas Ropponen, Stewart Russell and Trent Walter worked with me to thoughtfully challenge our students throughout the year. I offer my thanks to these generous individuals. It is their contribution that makes our art school a happy and busy place, provoking the curiosity and fervour of our wonderful students.
I also thank our graduating students for their hard work, enthusiasm and engagement with the Printmedia Studios and the course over the last three years, and wish them the very very best for the future.
Printmedia Studio Coordinator
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