Digital etching

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The digital picture is a term coined years ago to respond to technological development that has taken the field of graphic creation to accommodate new forms of printing in which the computer is the protagonist. It is difficult to define this concept from the faction without making any inaccuracies recorded since the very term seems to refer to any digital print scanned image, provided it is based on artistic merit. On the other hand, technical developments are breaking traditional boundaries in the creation of the recorded image and any image created from a computer file. Today, therefore, is complex to predict which of these systems will endure and which will go down in history. What does seem clear is that the engraving is facing a tremendous challenge because if they conform to the new media will soon be cornered as archaeological remains and on the other hand, if it suits the time it deserves, it is likely lose their particular idiosyncrasies.

We can not deny the evidence that a major change is occurring and it will take a bit of historical perspective to evaluate it with accordingly. Nor is it the first time, nor will be the last, a breakthrough technology that alters the transient or definitive course of events reshaping the concepts established. The most important reflection that everyone should, perhaps, has to go in terms of accepting the radical shift that is occurring in the current picture and consider whether the value of an artwork depends on the qualities of the medium in which is made, or if on the contrary, is based on their creative abilities.

The most prestigious galleries and institutions already have in their collections with computer-generated prints, and many studies and printers are dedicated to serving production artists worldwide. Some take positions purely digital, others have developed hybrid techniques combining these with traditional media, transform and revitalize, while a third group continues to defend the status of traditional engraving. But while the matrix becomes an untouchable, most seem to still maintain the idea of print as a physical object passing through the autonomy of the paper or other media. A few years together will decanting the inevitable change.

In 1998, an exhibition at the National Engraving title La Estampa Digital (Digital Print), which was the starting point for many reflections. There are several proposals about the computer generated image and new printing techniques. At that time, Gomez Isla said, "we had the feeling of witnessing an unique mixture between disciplines hitherto irreconcilable. However, in this sample media coexisted without apparent conflicts as diverse as traditional engraving, computer graphics, photography or even the computer-generated sculpture. All this was justified, not only for the uptake of new technologies under the term English print, but also because these procedures are redefined under the common denominator of multiple image digitally generated .[...]"

Scan the image allows the artist to manipulate, combine, to realize their creations more quickly by going to a variety of sources: drawing, painting, photography, etc., allowing to integrate the classic modes of printing with new images, breaking the boundaries that already seem unthinkable in the digital world, a kind of global village or iconographic globalization.

There is a basic text that the speed at which runs the technological support is already becoming somewhat dated, but for clarity we recommend here today. It was published in 2001 under the original name and became Digital Printmaking translated into Spanish as Impresión Digital (Anaya Multimedia, 2003). Written by Jane Stobart, Rosmary Simons, George Whale and Naren Barfield, in the second part you can get information on techniques and procedures, the study analyzes the components and how to process digital and print images under this system. It also offers information you will about integrating the most advanced techniques embossing on hollow, screen printing or lithography, talks about software as a creative and think about printing in the era of communication. On line, could be brought back to Martin Riat "Técnicas Gráficas" ("Graphic Techniques") in explaining certain concepts and procedures (from page 206).

On the other hand, as a result of the new general conception of the artist and the engraver in particular, all can lead to that, according to Jose Luis Brea "and there are no works of art, but artistic works and practices that produce knowledge and belief, no of objects that are not even thinking to these matrices of pixels, but to understand the network itself as parent-perhaps I am being the immediate present-giving rise to what is customary called net.art (...) does not exist artist as such, the artist is a worker, a producer, a citizen whose work-related intangible affection, sense, desire, the meaning and pleasure to be regarded as integrated into production equipment. It is therefore necessary to rethink the issues of authorship and intellectual property. Revenue for the XXI century artist will emerge from public circulation of immaterial labor (...) It may recognize a spirit of activism that focuses its efforts on developing just such "communities of media producers. In this case it is "web communities" that meet and exchange their productions generating their own public interaction devices, their own "media" (...) ("El tercer umbral", The third threshold, 2004).



(Source Header image: Peter Halley and George Whale. Exploding Cell, 1997-2000. Created and printed from an online interactive project for the MOMA).





Maria del Mar Bernal (professor of engraving at the School of Fine Arts, University of Seville)


Maria del Mar Bernal periodically reviews this and other articles published on the blog of the University of Seville.


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