Andrew Atkinson
Assistant Professor of Digital Photography
Montclair State University
89 Clinton Ave, Montclair, New Jersey, 07042 USA
Mobile: 973 714 1895

Paper: "Interstitial Languages: Photographers and Printmakers"

Printmakers are not photographers and vice versa. However, both fields share common territory. Within educational structures the fields are still divided, as the two subjects often have very different concerns, attitudes, aesthetics, languages and technologies. This said, newer technology is bringing together this last aspect, and we are seeing this convergence, and it is obvious that this project is well underway.

The computer has achieved what the alchemists could not, it is a philosopher's stone dissolving subjects into its binary language. Although this presents opportunities for subject areas to interact it does not solve nor offer solutions to the fundamental languages used by the distinct fields.

The common language between photography and printmaking has been long present: the printed reproduction of photographic imagery has been critical to the development and sustenance of photography, as after all, most photographic images seen are in fact reproductions, and the number of actual photographs that even people in the field see is small compared to the number of reproduced images. Of course this commonality has grown in recent years as the 21st century philosopher's stone bringing together some of the practices of production and image making from both fields. This is the current situation for many students, artists and pedagogues: there is a technology which is bringing together our fields, a digital locus which permits us to translate images from one field's language to another and there is also a technical language which specifically covers the reproduction of photographic imagery. But this language mostly covers the overlap of the two technologies and speaks about the mechanics of its creation. It will be argued that this language is useful for describing material aspects, but it is limited.

The broader languages of photography and print most commonly diverge at the aesthetics and concerns. For example, a printmaker could explore social elements through mechanical reproduction, through the distance and lack of "aura" of the repeated image. Photography seldom considers the media of production to be politically and socially significant but more often is concerned with subject through the practices of social documentary and ethical photojournalism. Or to give another example, at a formal level printed images are often concerned with marks and often its material effect, whereas photography is concerned the luxurious distribution of tone. Of course photo-mechanical prints has some of the formal concerns in common, as does alternative photography, but for the majority of practice the paradigms are quite different.

The paper will explore this heterogeneous area, searching for a critical and visual language that can bring together aspects of the photographic image with the language of the printed image in an effort to build on the strengths of both, and question the foundations of each and the traditional separation of the areas when the technologies are bringing both together in order to facilitate communication across the subject areas.

ANDREW ATKINSON is an Assistant Professor of Digital Photography at Montclair State University, in Montclair, New Jersey where he has taught since 2004. Prior to this he taught onto the MA in Printmaking for the critical theory section at the University of the West of England as well as part time lecturer at Swindon College, and as a visitor to various other universities. He completed his PhD in "The creation of digital fine art print through the Woodburytype model" from the University of the West of England (2004). Recent exhibitions include "Member's Show", CEPA Gallery, Buffalo, USA; "Boxing Clever", the Royal West of England Academy, Bristol, UK; the "13th Print Triennial", Tallinn, Estonia; "International Graphic Art Biennial", Split, Croatia; "Macedonian Print Triennial", Bitola, Macedonia; "International Print Biennial", Varna, Bulgaria; and the "International Print Biennial", Beijing, China. Atkinson has been an artist-in-residence at the Center for Book Arts, NY, USA; the Glasgow School of Art, UK; and the Fransmasereel Centrum, Kasterlee, Belgium.