Evolution of a physical artefact

One of the issues with an eBook is that there’s nothing to hand over at a book launch. People like physical things, even if they are big fans of the digital format. As you know, I’m a printmaker, and I decided that I could create something fun that would be a proxy for the book.

QR codes are those two dimensional black and white blocky things you see all over posters, bus-stops, and movie advertisements. (The QR stands for Quick Response, if you’re curious.) You can take information and put it into the QR code, then someone can scan it with a phone that understands the codes and see your message.

Thine_Antique_Pen_QR_Code
This one says “Thine Antique Pen”, for example.

QR codes can also store URLs, the addresses that we use to locate things on the web. Of course, my eBooks will have URLs, one for the Apple store and one for Smashwords. This got me thinking; I could create a QR code that would take people to my book and I could print it out in a way that would allow me to sign and distribute them, just as you would for a first edition at a book launch.

Here’s my test run. I made up a goo.gl shortening link and I turned it into a QR code (there are many sites that will do this for you), leaving a big hole in the middle for me to be able to sign or personalise any of the prints that I see. QR codes can be set up to allow them to be very tolerant of missing parts of the puzzle and I wanted a big empty space in the middle to give me the freedom to make a simple print more interesting.

I decided to use a 29×29 grid and worked on lino, working in pencil to create the reversed image (relief printing is going to flip it!) and then cutting it out. Finally, I decided to print it at home using only hand pressure, Japanese paper and Gamblin black relief ink (one of my favourite inks). As a test, if the image can be scanned with the innate variability of my hand printing technique, then it will work really well when it goes into a lino press.

Here’s an animation of the process, a collection of photos that take you through the process to the end.

output_FHq92n
This makes it look a lot easier than it was but it was still huge fun. I worked on this at Union Street Print Studios in Stepney, as well. Want to get into printing? Get in touch with Union Street and the amazing Simone.

It takes about eight hours from start to finish to do this. I like to work slowly and take breaks to avoid over-cutting and I spend a lot of time at the start to make sure that what I have sketched is actually the correct image and is correctly flipped.

Here’s the final print, in all of its shaky glory. But it does scan and that means that, when I finally get the real URLs for my book, they should scan as well. And now I know that people at my book launch will have something that they can take away, if they want to buy something physical as well as digital.

FinalQR
Notice the beautiful “hand made” details. That’s artisanal impact, that is. Feel the quality.

 

Love and beauty

I’m very pleased to have been able to be part of the Little Rundle Street Art Project for 2016.

My work “Legends for Explorers in Uncharted Territories” is a mixed-media digital/linocut/monoprint/photography composite. All the quadrants are 15cmx15cm.

Statement: Love is a collaborative creative activity; we build a map beyond ourselves, with each participant’s perceptions rewriting the terrain and legends.

Details of the work:

The original linocut, terrain with a blank legend, was inspired by a visit to the Medici household in Florence. The great map room is full of documents that show perceptions of the world, represented as maps, including some highly racist references to the more southern aspects of Africa. As Korzybski noted “the map is not the territory” and this separation between the representative and actual, geographical and the geopolitical, was brought home to me, standing in this grand room where the very powerful once sought to contain a view of the globe.

I used a blended roll to achieve the rainbow colouration, as a recognition of the many forms of love, but also to subvert the traditional colouring of maps. Any two-dimensional map can be displayed with only four colours, without any two adjacent sections having the same colour, but I chose to use more to remind myself that love is not about the minimum required, it is about beauty and that is often gloriously multi-coloured.

The text was cut as a separate plate and, over time as I printed with it, developed a character of its own that I did not erase, forming a monoprint that I then printed in isolation. The four panels are formed from the original printed work, with an early text overlay, and then digital composition of the elements. The black and white terrain is a high-contrast digital photograph of the cleaned plate, reversed.

The words “Our Love” by themselves are, in the digital version, on a transparent background. This was a deliberate decision, to add to the first work where love is a lens through which a terrain is viewed, to show how self-contained the shared perception of love can be, where it can be applied over wherever you find yourselves.

Any recollection of love, whether happy or sad, is deeply personal and yet it must be affected by the actions and thoughts of others. A single map does not show us the true territory through which this love travelled, but it can give us an idea of the shape, the highs and the lows, and whether this journey is over or ongoing.

I hope that you enjoy the work. Thank you for coming to view it.

Legends for Explorers in Uncharted Territories
Legends for Explorers in Uncharted Territories