Rhizome: Non-toxic printmaking from the studio to the digital cloud and back

Sarah Robinson
2013 Conference

My PhD journey encompasses three fields: non–toxic printmaking, digital technology and geological science, critical engagement inspired from these fields will influence my practice-led research. The concept of ‘non-toxic’ has steadily filtered into the mainstream printmaking studio apace with the dissolving parameters of traditional printmaking practice eroded by a digital aesthetic. The research aim intends to analyse the effect that digital technologies may have on our visions of landscape by integrating non-toxic and toxic etching methods in the studio, informed by the limestone geologies of Western Australia and Somerset in the United Kingdom. The importance of material practice in the studio has led me to development an interim project that references Deleuze and Guttarri’s (1988) concept of the ‘Rhizome’. Metaphorically, the rhizome offers an overarching visualisation of an abstract grid system that can translate into the pattern of discourse surrounding non-toxic printmaking and comparisons to the way Internet technologies function. This paper will track the development of a 3D printmaking project that to focuses on the ‘digital’ weed growing amongst contemporary printmaking practice. It aims to explore the use of 3D printmaking as a material process to gain insight to the PhD research parameters of digital and non–toxic printmaking. This asks: If we become conditioned to see the landscape through computer-generated digital technologies, what cognitive impact will this have on our perception of the actual physical landscape? It expects to find reasons why digital technologies may have changed the way we see the physical landscape.

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About the author

I am currently a PhD research candidate in the school of Communication and Arts and a sessional printmaking lecturer at Edith Cowan University. Since graduating from the Royal College of Art with an MA Degree in Fine Art Printmaking (1987) I have lectured in higher education, co-run Artlab – an open access printmaking studio in the United Kingdom and participated in numerous exhibitions. Within my former role of the President of the Printmaking Association of Western Australia I organised non-toxic printmaking workshops and the Contemporary Print Media Awards. I have won several awards, with work in International collections, and recently received a highly commended award at Print International 2013.