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Stopping Time: Material Prints 3000 BCE to Now [Exhibition Catalogue] Ross Woodrow, Curator.
MATERIAL PRINTS ARE DEFINED HERE AS IMAGES OR OBJECTS THAT HAVE BEEN CREATED FROM A MATRIX BY MECHANICAL, CHEMICAL OR ELECTRONIC MEANS AND CAN BE EXPERIENCED AS PHYSICAL OR MATERIAL ARTEFACTS. The strategic inclusiveness of this broad definition positions traditional prints on paper as part of a much larger constellation of printed images that extends well beyond the usual point of origin for printmaking in the fifteenth century, when Gutenberg invented movable type. It also extends into the present, beyond the perceived terminating decline with the development of digital photography at the end of the twentieth century. Not unexpectedly, works on paper make up the vast bulk of material in the exhibition since, as with any touring exhibition, logistical limitations amplify when the works in the exhibition reach across media divisions and into deep time. These difficulties partly explain the regretful omission of photography as a major presence in the exhibition. Nonetheless, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, with its infinite resources, has already mounted a massive survey of photography titled The Printed Picture, curated by Richard Benson, which presented a seamless lineage from fifteenth-century woodcuts to printed barcodes with a focus on material prints and an examination of the processes by which they were printed. Incidentally, this 2008 exhibition also demonstrated that the differences between chemical and digital processes in photography are essentially semantic distinctions. It is not only the expanded definition of printmaking that differentiates Stopping Time: Material Prints from 3000 BCE to Now from any other print exhibition yet mounted in Australia. The exhibition adopts a heterochronic view of time by bringing works together in thematic clusters, regardless of the period or place of production, collapsing temporal distance between them, and emphasizing the dual power of material prints to embed or carry past time, and to also stop time during our aesthetic engagement with them. This timeless encounter with material prints might be described as aesthetic time (see, Keith Moxey Visual Time: The Image in History) yet when artists attempt the synthetic transfer of ideas into matter and image it is more a process of collective cultural imagining and technological revelation rather than aestheticism. This can be framed as anachronic time in the sense of no time (timeless) in that the material image carries its own time as I argue in the catalogue. The full range of printmaking practices is represented, from ancient Mesopotamian images pressed in clay from cylinder seals to 3-D printed contemporary works. It includes works from the Griffith University Art Museum, the Newcastle Art Gallery along with several private collections, and the addition of recent work by contemporary artists including: Ali Bezer Blair Coffey Ryan Presley and Pamela See.