Constanza Dessain is undertaking a PhD funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council as part of the South, West and Wales Consortium II Doctoral Award Scheme. Her practice-based research with be supervised by Susanne Klein at the CPFR and Florian Roithmayr at Reading School of Art.
Their cross disciplinary research will take the gelatine relief of the Woodburytype beyond its traditional use as a photographic reproduction method, exploring how its material and processual properties as an imprint can be exploited to give graphic expression to touch and time.
The classical Woodburytype uses a relief printing plate generated presently by CNC milling or 3D printing to generate a 2.5 D image using a pigmented gelatine ink. By using the gelatine ink to produce 2.5 D images imprinted directly from objects and surface structures without the intermediate of a photographic image, Dessain has created a new image forming process with unusual aesthetic effect. They will extend the method’s potential by expanding the scale and the surface height of the gelatinous deposits to make large scale printed works.
Research into print methodologies tends to focus on digital innovations, image reproduction and historic accounts.There is a lack of discussion about the relationship between image and surface in the print, as well as the manner in which the print’s genesis affects the resultant image’s meaning. The variations in the photographic, digital and direct versions of the woodburytype method give it diverse aesthetic and conceptual possibilities for considering the relationship between surface and image. The resultant prints collapse the distinction between optical and tactile knowledge in subtly different ways that illuminate tensions between touch and veracity, resemblance and illusion. Analysis of these will broach the division between technical printmaking discussions and theories of the sensual perception of images.
The technical research and material experimentation will be driven by an artistic practice which seeks to inflect assumptions about description and recognition, and uses a forensic approach to examine mundane human-object interactions. The gelatine’s capacity to morph through different states will be explored through interventions in artworks which articulate a sense of metamorphosis and destruction. It will provide a strategy for depicting the materials of the human world and their lifespan from production to waste, engaging audiences with their environmental impact.