Phenomenology and Place

Phenomenology and Experimental Screen Printing.

A reoccurring theme in my practice is phenomenology – finding ways in which to articulate conscious experience.

This can seem to be an absurd and somewhat futile task, to create (often) two-dimensional works that capture or express a three-dimensional reality that exists in flux. For this reason, I avoid trying to creating a ‘fixed’ or static image that represents a place. The works are a gateway to a conversation about the place rather than an illustration of place.

My aim is therefore to create work that interacts with the environment in which it is presented. If the lighting changes, then so should the work, because after all, that is what ‘place’ is, as Maurice Merleau-Ponty says in the Phenomenology of Perception.

‘If I walk along a shore towards a ship which has run aground, and the funnel or masts merge into the forest bordering on the sand dune, there will be a moment when these details suddenly become part of the ship, and indissolubly fused with it. As I approached, I did not perceive resemblances or proximities which finally came together to form a continuous picture of the upper part of the ship. I merely felt that the look of the object was on the point of altering, that something was imminent in this tension, as a storm is imminent in storm clouds.’

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Screen Printing From Darkness to Light – Experimental Screen Printing

From Darkness to Light, Monochromes and Gloss

I have always enjoyed being experimental in my printmaking and enjoy having the subtle effect of over printing in the same colour; for example, white on white or gloss onto acetate. With pale colours, a shimmer or glowing effect can be achieved and I have always adored this.

This is the first time that I have begun to print with black ink on to black paper. As any printmaker knows the quality of the paper is imperative and quality black paper in a reasonable price bracket can be difficult to source and manipulate. For this reason, I have never experimented with it, but with new contacts made and research done, it is time to start experimenting.

Experimental Screen Printing Monochromes Gloss Rhizome
Developing the printing process, Jane Elizabeth Bennett © 2017 Screen printing.

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Multiplicity, Soft-ground and Stop Start Etching

I am so excited to be experimenting with Multiplicity, Soft-ground and Stop Start Etching.

In my last blog post, I spoke about the difficulties in forming a conversation between the marks that were present on the plate. To me, the etch was shouting over the natural striations and oxidisation that I was encouraging to form. Resolved to take an active approach to mark making. Utilising soft-ground, Lascaux varnish, impure water and a pertinent quotation from A Thousand Plateaus I began to experiment.

soft-ground stop start etching rhizome printmaking
The experimental soft ground on a hand ground zinc plate.

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Printing with Impurity and the Rhizome

As the academic year comes to a close and the printmaking studio empties of frantic students I have found some time to begin experimenting with impurities and the rhizome.

I have been very kindly given a number of large, lightly etched zinc plates. My usual practice is to, grain, aquatint and etch zinc multiple times with a deep bite, so the light etch would not interfere with my work, but as I occasionally laminate plates with photopolymer it is best to start with a neat surface.

Whilst graining the plates by hand, using a medium carborundum, block and sandpaper I removed a substantial layer of the original etch. As hand graining with a block is a laborious process I broke the monotony by periodically inking and printing the plates. I thought that if nothing else I would be left with a series of prints showing the reduction of an etch and the appearance of a ghost like ‘nothingness’.

intaglio, printmaking, etching, impurities, soft-ground experimental
Air dried hand grained zinc plates, UCLAN Printmaking Department

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