Sunday, December 7, 2008

Antique Printing Press Series 2008

I have recently re-connected with my love of old printing presses. With my being a printmaker, growing up around mechanically-minded people, and being involved in press maintenance
as part of my “day job”, this development would seem to be a natural outgrowth of my work that I nearly overlooked.
This most recent batch of T-shirts is a series of various old (late 1800’s-early 1900’s) printing press models, designed to print their respective print media, i.e., Etching, Lithography or Letterpress.
I am particularly fascinated by the graceful lines in the heavy cast iron
machinery, as opposed to their singular earthy utility---that their designers had the time and actually bothered to make them “pretty,” even though they were meant to do dirty industrial jobs, is remarkable. Maybe it really was about Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, on more than one level, after all! I fear that should these presses ever fail to be appreciated, either in or out of their useful realm, they would be destined for the scrap heap, going the way of other obsolete technologies.
So I have been on a quest to document these presses I find, particularly since the heyday of hand-printing and beautifully simple machinery recedes farther and farther into the rear-view mirror, while the digital age of speed at all costs rules over much of today’s world activities. Wearing the press image on a T-shirt, to me, symbolizes and solidifies the human body scale relationship and daily activity choreography inherent in the utilitarian aspects of both press and shirt.

The “Gem” Paper Cutter in the earlier post was the catalyst for my starting this group of designs.