Shift Lab’s [in code] project

The following is a guest post from the members of Shift Lab, recipients of the 2014 Printeresting Micro-Grant, sharing their [in code] project. Enjoy.

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[in code], Salt Lake City, January 2014, sketch of ‘the lay of the case’

The [in code] project utilized social media, letterpress, collaboration, and text-based communication via tweets to extend a dialogue in the book art and print communities in Salt Lake City (January, 2014) and again in San Francisco (March, 2014.) During each event, we gathered information with specific hashtags from twitter and translated and/or interpreted them into a series of letterpress-printed posters. This project was supported by Printeresting, Legion Paper, NY, The University of Utah, and San Francisco Center for the Book.

This project, instigated by the collaborative Shift-lab, highlights methods of communication. Shift-lab was formed in 2013 by Katie Baldwin (Alabama), Denise Bookwalter (Florida), Sarah Bryant (UK), Macy Chadwick (California), and Tricia Treacy (North Carolina,) as a platform for collaboration to extend our personal studio practices.

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Rolls of perforated paper from a monotype casting machine, Salt Lake City, January 2014.

The idea of [in code] is inspired by our interest in physical limitations of communication in both the digital and the analog worlds. Here we consider the comparison between the letterpress job case and the digital character set, the composing stick and the 140-character limit of a tweet. Despite these physical limitations, the possibilities for communication are endless. In a time where social media is routine, we wanted to slow down and respond to this digital dialog by taking notice and translating them into an analog form.

The structure and creative process of the project also added additional limitations. We worked in new shops with unknown tools, type, etc. The obvious time constraint of eight to ten hours of printing which forced us to make quick decisions on the fly in front of a changing audience. All projects like this where we set up a series of parameters with unknown content lead us to collaborate and solve visual problems in an interesting manner.

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Screen printing layer one inspired by the montotype rolls, Salt Lake City, January 2014.

Upon reflection, looking back at the process, we gathered about 800 tweets in 48 hours. While there was a lot of content, the quantity inspired a visual response. We were selective with the language that we worked into our final prints. We honed in on text that resinated and connected to the orginal intentions of the project.

Shift-lab will continue to study the shift in contemporary perspective relating to art practice, collaboration, communication, the digital and analogue experience.

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4 members of shift lab at the start of the day, Salt Lake City, January 2014.

We are grateful to the awesome folks at Printeresting for the micro-grant which helped to turn this project into a reality! We are also appreciative of the many, many planned (and unplanned) friends, fellow printers, interns and volunteers that put in serious hours at each event. [in code] was not solely the work of the shift-lab members—a truly collaborative project.

The final prints will be displayed on our website very soon. We regularly write about our creative process on our blog. Keep in touch with us via: [twitter] @shiftlaborg // [web] // [email]

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Skype call with 5th shift-lab member, Sarah Bryant in the UK, Salt Lake City, January 2014.

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Hand-carved wood block of hashtag, Salt Lake City, January 2014.

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Shift-lab members making final decisions near the end of the day,Salt Lake City, January 2014.
(photo credit: Brad Freeman)

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Cutting old polymer plates to make image of composing stick, San Francisco, March 2014.

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Sorting through tweets at the start of the daySan Francisco, March 2014.

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Tweets set in Futura lead type, San Francisco, March 2014.

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Tweets set in Bulmer lead type, San Francisco, March 2014.

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Locking-up the press, San Francisco, March 2014.

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Punctuation in lead type used to respond visually to tweets, San Francisco, March 2014.

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Lock-up on the bed of the press of circular ornaments, San Francisco, March 2014.

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 Tweets set in Futura lead type, San Francisco, March 2014.

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Tweet set in wood type: ‘analog catalog of interlocking dialogs’, San Francisco, March 2014.

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Fine tuning the type on the press, San Francisco, March 2014.

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Tweet set in wood type, ‘FAR away, close UP.’, San Francisco, March 2014.

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All 6 presses running: Barbara Tetenbaum is printing on press 1, San Francisco, March 2014.

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Close up of make-ready print from both events, San Francisco, March 2014

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