Perspectives On Print

I used to believe the essence of print lies in the fact that it can reproduce copied editions and can be disseminated easily compared to other mediums. As it is my second time studying printmaking in an academic group I thought it was necessary to update my perspectives on print.

1. Print is about transferring material from one surface to another receiving surface. This explains the process of most of the printmaking techniques but in a broader sense, it shows how printmaking is a medium that leaves marks and traces on the other surface. In some ways, it’s staining another surface, or sometimes it pierces or scars another surface. For example, in Yves Klein’s “Anthropométries” the human body is soaked in paint and leaves a smudge on the wall. In the sense, that body is used as a type of “plate” to transfer the paint and stain the white wall can be considered as a type of print too. I think this is a distinct characteristic that printmaking has.

2. Print is about one surface changing form to fit seamlessly into the mold. This has a significant connection to how print relies on pressure and weight. If the receiving surface is incapable to endure the pressure or weight of the material it is impossible to produce a print. Usually, two surfaces should be compatible and this only happens when one surface is more resilient yet delicate than the other one.

3. Print is about deduction and burnishing. The matrix is one of the most sensitive and volatile materials. It is responsive and it reciprocates/picks up whatever happens to it.

Yves Klein
Untilted Anthropometry, 1960

The three theses above describe my subjective definition of what makes “print” a “print”. But moreover, I have realized that I can replace the word “print” with “relationship” and the sentences above will still make sense. ( though it has a risk of sounding like a sentimental poem )

Printmaking is about a stronger surface colliding with a softer yet resilient surface. In other words, making an imprint is only possible when one surface yields to fit into the stronger one. I thought this phenomenon can symbolize the power differential that can be observed in human relationships.

Moreover, I thought I can connect this physical act to co-dependence or symbiosis of sadistic and masochistic traits. To better articulate the relationship dynamic that I aim to capture through my art, I’ve decided to borrow the theory of Erich Fromm.

The sadomasochism that I am referring to, is about self-torture and authoritarian behaviors that are observed in relationships. It is closer to Fromm and Adler’s take on moral sadomasochism, not the Freudian perception that is strictly associated with sexual desire.

I was intrigued that sadomasochism can be manifested in the disguise of love. This breaks the general expectation that people have about sadistic traits. It is not difficult to associate love with masochism since the person with masochistic tendencies is willing to submit and depend. However, dependence is not a trait that is solely found in masochism. Sadistic persons depend on a weaker being that will give them the pleasure of complete mastery. Thus they would sometimes be loving or pay genuine concern, but never give them freedom. This can also be interpreted as love, depending on how one might define it.

This distorted symbiosis inspired me to conceive an image of two people pressing their bodies into each other, becoming a perfect, seamless mold. I thought this image is quite similar to how the metal plate presses the paper in etching. The paper gives in and gets scarred in the shape of the plate, and the metal plate is intact. Yet together combined they are a perfect match.

As time passed this idea developed into drawings that combine human organs and plants. Sometimes it came out as a sketch involving personified plants. The drawings with human organs are a metaphor of a symbiosis that doesn’t exist in reality. It shows the perfect harmony of two objects, and they are able to coexist without penetrating each other.

Cardiac Scans,
pen on paper, 2022


The drawing with personified plants, on the other hand symbolizes the dependance in a relationship. In my most recent work I’m sculpting a tree that grows stronger by exploiting the tulips’ nutrients. However the tree is only strong when it lives inside a confined space made with glass and mirror. It doesn’t want to see other trees that are stronger, thus isolating itself and preying on the weaker. 

I’m happy for you
(as long as you’re less happy than me), 
pen on paper, 2022

Finding New Surfaces

I decided to create a specific surface for my artwork; A surface that can distinctively show the result of the power that has been applied. A surface that lets the viewers associate it with the influences and scares that are deeply embedded through relationships.

For references, I have researched artists that used unfamiliar materials for prints. To be more accurate these works are not necessarily intended to be “prints”. However they correspond to the definition that I  have written in the essay above, and as a result, I’m including them as a type of print.

Sonja Bäumel, an Austrian artist explores the theme of what bodies are made of. Her art involves fungoid-like substances or real bacteria as well. One of her artworks “Expanded-Self” is from her live-painting series. Her bacterial artworks are defined as paintings but in a sense, it is a live-print.  “Expanded-Self” was imprinted on a giant bed-sized perti dish, filled with agar. The invisible bacteria which she refers to as “colors” is the ink for the print. Just by touching the agar surface with the body, the traces of invisible organisms reveal themselves in a week. The gradual emergence of the bacteria is a metaphor for how much more we are than our body if we consider the organic materials that come from our co-habitants.

Sonja Bäumel
Expanded Self, 2012

Helen Chadwick, a British artist well known for her provocative and jaunty experiments made artworks that give us a sensorial experience. One of her most famous artworks, “Piss Flowers” was made from urine casting. Chadwick and her partner David Notarius left urine marks on a mount of snow and filled up the cavities using plaster. They were later recreated in bronze covered in white enamel and got the form that is familiar to us. The flower shows the impact that was been done by both female and male. Due to the different temperatures of their urine, her urine showed a strong and hot form, whereas the man’s streaks were diffused and cooler. This symbolizes the inversion of human genitalia. The reason that I consider this as a print is not because they can be casted and printed as editions, but the fact that urine penetrated the surface and left an imprint.


Helen Chadwick
Piss Flowers, 1991-92

I’ve discovered that these artworks are both transitory. The reason for being transitory is quite different but both artists used temporary and versatile substances. The difference is that Bäumel’s art is temporal in the sense that her artwork evolves through time and Chadwick’s work disappears through time. Their approach towards temporality differs as well.

Bäumel intended her art to change, to show the fact that the bacteria, things that are surrounding us are still expanding. She didn’t try to hinder the expansion of the bacteria, thus she had to capture a static moment of its growth through pictures. On the other hand, Chadwick tried to preserve the temporal state as she was making it. The original edition of the piss flower probably melted away, but the annihilation of the print is not a significant part of this artwork.

This observation influenced me to create a surface by using a material that can be affected by time. I thought the transitory characteristic can best represent how volatile relationships can be

I made sketches about transferring etchings to a sculpture. They look identical but one is made out of soap and the other one is made out of ceramic. The etching each depicts a bigger tulip and a baby tulip. The print that goes on to the soap describes a good memory they share. The bigger tulip nurtures the smaller one by protecting it from the storm. On the ceramic sculpture is the etching of a bigger tulip abandoning the baby. This symbolizes how good memories disappear easily, yet traumatic experiences linger forever.

I’ll love you forever, ( as long as I’m alive my baby you’ll be ),
sketch made by blender, 2023


Uncanny and Temporal

“I, the world, things, life- we are points of
energy, and it is not as necessary to crystallize these points
as it is to keep them open and alive.”


Giovanni Anselmo
once said. An artist who is well known for a key role in the Arte Povera movement. Accordingly, to what he has said, he made works that exhibit life and time passing by, not making effort to preserve it.

There are countless temporal artworks made throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. We can start discussing the works of John Cage and the happening movement but in this writing, the “temporal art” that I’m referring to is the kind of art that uses materials that change throughout time. Sound-based art, for instance, can be temporal but since sound is immaterial I will try to exclude them in this discussion.

While investigating themes that interlace with my art I have decided to expand my practice by using more variable materials. In other words, creating artworks that change their form through external forces. These include artworks that melt, decompose, warp, and disappear, due to time or other conditions.

As I’ve mentioned in the previous essay I thought temporal art can be a suitable metaphor to show how volatile relationships can be. Then I started questioning myself. “Am I going through that phase?, “ The phase that artists start wasting food and letting it rot as if they are competing to make the most unpleasant piece of art?” I was hoping that I wasn’t doing my research to rationalize the fact I’m going through that phase. So I tried to narrow down the art that I was aspiring for.  As I was looking through I noticed that a lot of temporal art shared the sense of uncanny and abject.

As to think about it, it was inevitable. Since they involve susceptible materials that were meant to be deformed. Naturally, they are uncanny because they find the line that distinguishes life and death and bring it right before our eyes. Just by using time-affected materials, it can easily connect the viewers to the concept of morbidness.

However, at the same time, some artists use perishable materials and try to fight against them. It is the crystallization of death. Mark Quinn’s “self-portrait” and “Garden” is the perfect example. The blood casting of his face is frozen and maintaining its form by keeping it refrigerated constantly.  In his artwork “Garden” he displays embalmed dead flowers that appear to be alive. They are petrified and live forever with their dead body.

Marc Quinn, 2000
Cold room, stainless steel, heated glass, refrigeration equipment, mirrors, acrylic tank,
low viscosity silicon oil held at -20°C turf, plants, flowers

I got a clue here. The reason why I wanted to use temporal materials is that I wanted to show the worthlessness of fighting nature. Fighting the thing that is bound to happen. Maintaining a relationship is fighting the impossible, trying to defy what’s coming to them. For the next unit I will aim to create the uncanny not by showing the demise but the futile effort of fighting the demise.