I read this article last week, In Defense of Dots. It goes on to explain how the materiality of cheap paper and the restrictions of the four-colour print process in the middle of the 20th Century contributed some unexpected qualities to comic book art. It, of course, explains this far more eloquently and profoundly, so I encourage you to read it.

For me it is something that I do think about in my artwork, but yet probably not enough. Obviously when I used recycled media I am collaborating willfully with the object, its patina (or its lack thereof when I deliberately remove it) to exploit these intrinsic elements at the same time that I change its function. All of which contributes to the new object, the richness of its finish and its narrative.

I don’t think about these concerns nearly as much when I use new materials. I hand cut or laser cut them with mechanical precision, and sand blast them, thinking that, at least in the physical sense, I am wiping them clean of all meaning. This is all part of imposing a new aesthetic; the highly refined patterns that dictate the form of each piece is also the new narrative. They are little machines that represent their own construction.

I don’t think of the sandblaster as being my four colour print press – I rarely stop to think of its limitations versus it benefits. I want a uniform surface, I don’t intend to sand or to polish by hand, so it is the premium tool for my purposes. It leaves an imprint, sure, but I like its self-assured matte-ness. Nothing is privileged, nor is anything forgotten. When I’m done using it, I get to pick out the hierarchy: spatially, by literally elevating elements; and through colour, by individually colouring separate planes.

But the sandblaster, and the colour and grain of the steel, or the titanium or the silver, gold or timber, are also in there. They’re my paper and my four colours. I’ve chosen them to work with, but I’m not looking out for the moiré effect. I say I work with pattern, but I work with the deliberately manipulated, AutoCad produced pattern. I forget the other naturally-occurring repetitive patterns, like the grain of particle board, or a granite bench-top, or the sandblasted surface. Could it be that, like the comic artists in the article, while I’m more concerned about manipulating plane and staring at the quality of my line-work, it is the parts that I have trusted to the process – the background dots – that are telling their own story?

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