THINK TANK SEMINAR: CRAVING THE MARK

FALL 2012
Printmaking Major
Mondays, 1 - 2 pm


Lisa Bulawsky, Associate Professor
bulawsky@samfox.wustl.edu
(314) 935-6571

*All course materials, including this syllabus, readings, and discussion boards can be accessed through Blackboard.

Course Description

In this seminar, we will investigate the topic "Reproducing Authenticity," a panel session for the 2013 CAA (College Art Association) conference. The panel, chaired by Jason Urban (co-founder of Printeresting) focuses on the language of print as a signifier of authenticity and the complex relationship of real printed matter to its life in the virtual world.

We will work collaboratively to turn over the panel questions, to develop themes and lines of inquiry, to think as well as to make in response to the topic. The results of this activity will be presented at the CAA conference in New York in February.

Session Abstract:

Have pervasive digital technologies recast the language of print, historically a reproductive or imitative practice, as a signifier of handmade authenticity? From the bottom-up explosion of the silkscreen music poster scene, to Starbucks' top-down embrace of the print haptic, rebranding itself with distressed, faux-printed logos, the aesthetic cues of print have become a new kind of commodity. The human hand, once considered detached from the indirect process of printing, is now strongly associated with processes once considered mechanical, like screenprinting and letterpress. Is the heroic image of craftsmen working in a printshop alluring to an audience entrenched in a world of touch screens? Images of lead type, inky squeegees, and stacks of prints on drying racks flood Youtube, Tumblr and other social media. Is it a sign of the times that the very same digital media from which we seek relief is used to celebrate analog printed matter? How has the mundane, daily digital experience reaffirmed our cultural awareness of physical printed matter and raised the status of the print from commonplace to notable (even in situations where the "printedness" is merely simulated)? This panel focuses on the language of print as a signifier of authenticity and the complex relationship of real printed matter to its life in the virtual world.
Chair Name: Jason Urban Affiliation: Printeresting.org Email: jason@printeresting.org

The seminar will be democratically driven. We'll make decisions as a group about our activities, research topics, even how the collaboration will happen. In the end, whether we have written a research paper, curated an exhibition, created an archive, produced a print portfolio, staged a performance, whatever – it will be through all of our work, collectively, through the sometimes difficult process of collaboration. To help facilitate the beginnings of this effort, I've made a list of some possible activities, readings, and other resources. I've also made a mock schedule to help envision the progress of our project, to be completed by November 19th.

Activities
Document, archive, and catalog examples of the printed mark as a signifier of the authentic.
Set up virtual discussion space – Pinterest? Facebook? Blog?
Conduct field research – surveys, consumer tests, etc.
Produce authentic and inauthentic things.
Collect resources on this topic and create an exhaustive archive. Sci Fi.

Research topics
Authenticity
What is it?
Aesthetics of authenticity
Authenticity – Heidegger, Adorno
Authenticity vs originality

Craftsmanship
Aesthetics
Labor, markets, desire, commodification
Punk, DIY

Resources
- Reading
Susan Tallman, On Making, Art in Print, Volume 2, #2
The Work of Art in the Age of Reproduction, Walter Benjamin
Shopcraft as Soulcraft
The Craftsman, Richard Sennett
Making It, Lewis Hyde's review of The Craftsman
The Production of Sincerity, Boris Groys, Going Public
Religion in the Age of Digital Reproduction, Boris Groys, going public
"The Attraction of Print – Notes on the Surface of the Art Print" by Ruth Pelzer-Montada
Notes on Camp, Sontag
Interrogating the Surface, Paul Coldwell
Techno-narcissism: A Printmaker's Ordeal by Shaurya Kumar

- Organizations
Made by Hand
ILSSA

- Websites
Etsy

Schedule

Sept 10 First meeting – discussion, collect and reflect
Sept 17 Subcommittees form – write charges, readings distributed
Sept 24 Reports from subcommittees
Oct 15 Readings summarized
Oct 22 Launch web platform
Oct 29 Reports from subcommittees
Nov 5 Plan the master plan
Nov 12 Work in print shop
Nov 19 Last meeting – putting it all together

And here are the other presentations/papers on the panel:

Speaker
Paper title: "Truth and Reproducibility" Abstract: Scientific method is predicated on reproducibility and repeatability. An experiment conducted in one lab is confirmed as valid only if it can be reproduced in another. Additionally, prints have played a significant role in the advancement of scientific and technical learning through its capacity to create repeatable images. By contrast, Western art has historically privileged concepts of originality and authenticity that exist apart from systems of reproduction and replication. Authenticity in art has been most often based on its singularity of expression or provenance. In this paper I will draw from a variety of sources to argue for the veracity and significance of reproducibility. Member ID: 9516 Name: Beauvais Lyons Affiliation: University of Tennessee, Knoxville Email: blyons@utk.edu

Speaker
Paper title: "Studio, Museum, Print: Problems of Virtual Authenticity" Abstract: The visual signifiers of printmaking in the digital realm capitalize on borrowed history, treating print as a form of authority. Yet, why do we need the "authentic" in relation to images and ideas perceived digitally? Addressing popular printmaking blogs and comparing museum print collection websites, this paper will evaluate the relationship of real printed matter to its life in the virtual world. Examining the online display of the printmaker's studio shows why it could be seen as a breeding ground for a kind of authenticity. Museums possess an original, they proffer a digital copy, yet ostensibly are delivering an authentic digital version of a work of art. Analyzing the museum as a power structure brings digital image legitimacy into question, particularly when comparing multiple prints from the same edition, displayed entirely differently between a range of museum collection websites. Member ID: XXXX Name: Julia V. Hendrickson Affiliation: Courtauld Institute of Art, London (MA, History of Art, 2012) Email: julia.v.hendrickson@gmail.com

Speaker
Paper title: "... originality doesn't exist anyway, only authenticity." Abstract: Digital technologies have replaced the mechanical or hand-made print as the dominant vehicle for mass communication. This evolution has caused a rift between printmaking and its utilitarian roots, rendering the medium vulnerable to the often contradictory aesthetic and formal codes of art, and cultural nostalgia. Mechanical printing methods have even been adopted as art historical gestures ripe for appropriation artists to take. Where an upheaval of authorship and insistence on "amateur" technique defined certain appropriation practices, contemporary printmaking, as an opposite genre of copying, has assumed a defensive air of sincerity, for which technical, social or sub-cultural dedication is key, and is strengthened by inherent contradictions. If we accept Rosalind Krauss' posit that "authenticity need not be a function of the history of technology," our conception of authenticity must then depend on context, and expand to consider appropriationist author Helene Hegemann's assertion that "...originality doesn't exist anyway, only authenticity." Member ID: XXXX Name: Lauren van Haaften-Schick Affiliation: Independent Curator Email: laurenvhs@gmail.com

Speaker
Paper title: "Craving the Mark" Abstract: The currency of the handmade and the printed mark in the digital age seem best suited to be investigated by those for whom digital technologies are second nature. Current undergraduate students are by definition part of the generation that has "grown up in the digital age." With this in mind, a seminar in printmaking titled Think Tank: Craving the Mark, was designed around the panel topic and offered to students at Washington University in St. Louis in the fall of 2012. Through readings and discussions, the development of an online forum, creative research and studio production, the seminar participants turned the panel questions over in various ways, and generated a collective response. Craving the Mark is a summation and presentation on the findings from the seminar, culled from collaborative exploration and discussion by students, faculty, and the virtual community. Member ID: XXXX Name: Lisa Bulawsky Affiliation: Associate Professor and Director of Island Press, Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Art, Washington University in St. Louis Email: Bulawsky@samfox.wustl.edu