A Medium in the Liminal Zone: Exploring New Territories for Printmaking

Academic Paper for IMPACT 8 Conference
28th August - 1st September 2013, Dundee, Scotland

This paper is based on recently completed doctoral research examining graphical tagging as a liminal medium through which artists can combine printmaking with mobile media. A graphical tag (see image) is a 2-dimensional barcode, scannable by mobile phone, which using web-based technologies, can deliver back to the phone, a wide range of digital media, and activate web-based functionalities.  In doing so, the graphical tag can be seen as a liminal entity, acting as a portal between the physicality of the real word and the ephemerality of digital media. With this comes new ways of conceptualising  the materiality and immateriality of printmaking as well as a broadening of the creative scope offered by combining traditional printmaking processes with art practices using mobile media.

To provide the artists, curators, critics and other interested parties with a clear understanding of how graphical tagging can be used in artworks, galleries and museums, contemporary technologies and debates surrounding the use of graphical tagging in artworks are discussed. The aim is to provide a clear understanding of tagging in terms of art practice, illustrating the issues that face practitioners working to combine digital and analogue mediums, as well as those wishing to exhibit graphically tagged artworks.

Based on formal studies which combine mixed methodologies drawing from art practice, visual sociology and human computer interaction in order to set up an artwork – gallery – participant framework, findings of this research discuss the implications for practitioners in production, presentation and reception of graphically tagged artworks. The paper concludes with the signposting of future areas of development working with this new medium for art practice.