Two Prints: Geisha Remix (2012, Left) and Cleopatra Worries Remix (2012, Right).
The photo above shows two prints I recently made to be displayed in my office. Four years ago, I advocated producing paper prints over canvas prints — mostly, even after examining the advantages and disadvantages of each material, because museums seemed to prefer fine art paper Giclee prints over canvas ones. That bias suited me. As someone with a weakness for texture, I find that canvas preserves color better than paper but hammers down texture.
But time and age once again prove to be inevitable. As the computers I use to make art have become increasingly powerful, and as the original sizes I use to make art have become progressively larger, I now prefer making canvas prints for two reasons.
The prints above were created on canvas, mounted to one-inch wooden stretcher bars, and then gallery wrapped (meaning, the edges of the prints were wrapped around the frames on all four sides). From a practical standpoint, if these images had been printed at the same size on paper, they would have been far too heavy to hang. You can get a sense of the scale of the prints by comparing their size to that of the light switches located below each print at the lower right.
Canvas prints are just more durable, too. Paper prints, by contrast, are staggeringly fragile and must be first encased under glass and then framed. True, one could always play the odds and pin a paper print to a wall. I admit that tack-up print will not be arduous to hang. But caveat emptor. Any trace of liquid is a paper print’s baneful enemy, and an inconvenient nearby sneeze immediately and permanently rearranges your print’s composition (and medium?) — and, by extension, its aesthetic and/or monetary value.
Now back to the problem of acute heaviness. Size matters says popular culture. Working bigger and bigger with better computers meant that I wanted to make larger and larger prints. Supermassive glassed and framed paper prints increasingly run the risk of pulling a wall down and throwing out my senior citizen back. Canvas prints, however, especially when unframed, are more often lighter than the smallest framed-under-glass paper print. Moreover, I like the added perceptual sense of the illusion of an endless horizon (both horizontally, as the term implies, but also vertically) brought forth by the technique of gallery wrapping.
I’d like to stress again, just as I did earlier on this blog, that I see prints as just one of several paths for displaying fractal/digital art — not necessarily a superior alternative to screen viewing. My dream, and one I will not likely live to see, would be to soak up digital art on Total Recall wall-sized scifi-ultimate high definition screens. Even now, I prefer looking at digital art galleries as well as OT and other art blogs on my Galaxy Note tablet. Digital art genuinely pops in high def, and a quick turn auto-adjusts vertically/horizontally allowing one to more distinctly study pieces whether rendered in portrait or landscape.
Still, living with an image is a far different experience than seeing one recreated in pixels on a screen or stamped using ink into a book. Prints occupy physical space and become integrated into the metaphysical fabric of our everyday lives. Hanging a print instantly changes a room — and changes the experience of everyone who wanders into that room.
Making prints of or drawn from fractal art still seems as close as I’ll ever get to practicing alchemy. Presto. Digital into physical.
You go to war with the army you have — not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time.
Cleopatra Worries (2002)
[Click image to view at full size].
Cleopatra Worries Remix (2012)
[Click image to view at half of full size.]
One beef I’ve always had with digital art is the fundamental lack of a one-of-a-kind physical object, as well as the difficulties inherent due to its subsequent near-perfect duplication. A digital master is easily twinned with no discernible loss of quality. The lack of a unique original is digital art’s biggest bummer. Shouldn’t there be some kind of trade-off? Isn’t there something digital art can do and be that is patently beyond the seemingly unparalleled capabilities of physical objects?
Digital musicians already heard this clarion call years ago. Digital objects can always be remixed.
Both prints above are from a remix series I undertook last summer. Both images (and numbering over 100 others in the remix project) were orginally created ten+ years ago on far more primitive tower computers. The master images usually measured only 800×600 pixels. Using Blow Up, a plugin from Alien Skin, I expanded the originals to ten times their original measurements before digitally post-processing some sweetenings to light/shadow, clarity, noise, and background detail. And all for one primary purpose: to display the works at a much larger scale.
And now originals that once would barely fill the space of a cell phone can now replete walls and occupy high-def flat screens.
This particular project was deliberately designed to essentially retain the compositional likenesses of the originals. But I haven’t always been so fastidious about preserving the constituent features of original digital works. I worked for several years on a series of 402 images called "Energy Vampires" that I described on my web site as
made by piling many layers over a "found" base image — like fractal art by other artists, advertising images found on the Web, and my own (mostly discarded) art. The result: these "energy vampires" came to exist by completely draining the source images of their original content.
and later elaborated on my blog that
I kept no record of whose images I bit in their beds — or which of my own were seduced and sucked to a husk. I deliberately did not want to remember. The process itself was all that mattered — just as the vampire is driven to feed off others with myopic need. The artist as leech. The artist as tapeworm.
The "Energy Vampire" series was admittedly closer to a dub remix than to an enhancement exercise. Each (r)evamped piece got seriously scrambled before being forcefully reconstituted. Still, the largest dimension any work in the series ever grew to was 1000×1000 pixels. So what would happen, I wondered, if I also blew up a few of those remixed vampires, too? Could they daywalk afresh — or would they combust in the new light of the sun?
Energy Vampire 383 Remix (2012)
[Click image to view at half of full size.]
Remixing the remixes. Digital art’s ace in the hole of cyberspace.
So you can take your physical object and stick it where the digital image don’t dub.