© 1995-2024_Cecilia Mandrile

Aesthetics of Displacement: The Graphic Evidence
Cecilia Mandrile


Print processes stand at the core of the approach to ‘making’ in contemporary visual culture, evidencing a graphic language that, being constantly impacted upon by an ever-expanding technology, reflects the flux inherent in today’s society. From the impersonal online ‘print on demand’, to the rapid dissemination of 3D printing, to community collaborative workshops, current approaches to graphic practices demonstrate that confronting the ubiquity of virtual information emerges the need to engage with a touchable outcome. Therefore, it is timely and significant to identify a new intellectual understanding of print, as a process that, historically grounded in its potential of multiplicity, has now acquired further significance as a means for displacing virtual information towards the creation of - often sole - physical artefacts, that allow connections with both global and local communities at a ‘tangible’ level.

The making of prints has, throughout history, implied displacing visual information from a source (plate/file/numeric code) to a range of substrates (paper, canvas, wood, plastic, ceramic), generating images with new physical identities. The curatorial approaches to major international print-based exhibitions such as Philagrafika: The Graphic Unconscious, Philadelphia, Prints Now, Victoria &Albert Museum, MoMA Print/Out, Royal College of Art Control Print and Out of Hand, Museum of Arts and Design, New York, demonstrate that print-based projects stand at the centre of the contemporary art discourse. Significant publications including the catalogues accompanying these exhibitions, as well as the journals Art in Print and Grabado & Edición, are evidence of extensive writing and critical debates surrounding emergent technologies in print. However, the displacing nature of the print process as well as the notion of displacement within the printed artefact is still to be discussed. By underpinning the presentations and discussions on the displacing nature of the print process, this panel will address how the potential of the translation of images and virtual data has not only informed conceptually and aesthetically artists’ approach to image making, but also how the resulting printed artefact reflects on the interaction with a changing audience. Examining the significance of the constantly evolving print practices in contemporary visual culture, the panel will discuss the graphic evidences in – and through- aesthetics of displacement, as well as how these transformations inform and relate to diverse dynamics of current cultural, social and political engagement.