Prepared Scanner - Compositions in Clay

Using the flatbed scanner as a canvas and contemporary digital printmaking tool
Submitted by

Project Location

New York New York
Artists Involved

Project Description

Prepared Scanner - Compositions in Clay" will be a body of digital images created by making clay paintings on the bed of a large surface, high-resolution scanner. I will be using the scanner as a means of digitally recorded painting. From the ensuing images, I will create a catalog of works as a small edition printed book. It will also be distributed as an e-book. The project will culminate in a book release combined with an exhibition of the compositions in clay.

I have been working on compositions with small scale, commercial, home-office scanners for the past year. I first began composing works directly on scanner beds with cut paper and computer graphic print outs. All of these collages went through a looping process of being scanned into the computer, altered, printed, then altered in real life in my studio, scanned again, and so on. The process began to erode the medium to where it was no longer possible to tell a pixel from toner. My experimentation led to me making a book, Capture Physical Presence, a collection of the collages offset printed in full color. I continued to work with the concept of scanning as a tool for altering mediums with the series Image File Corrosion.

Late last year I began experimenting on the same small scale commercial scanners but with clay. Working with malleable, colored plastilina clay changed the action and dynamic of the process. The scans resulting from my initial clay experiments surprised me with their unusual perspective. The photography of the scanner bed picked up both flat areas where clay was smeared against the glass, as well as a shallow depth of field where the clay had not been pushed with as much force. I became intrigued with the scanner as both a physical sculpture and as a tool enabling the conversion of a physical practice into a digital practice. This project has so far been exhibited at Saamlung Gallery in Hong Kong in the show The Untouchables. In the exhibition, I've presented four commercial home office scanners, each with a different composition in clay on the scanner bed. While the viewer of the exhibition will see the physical reality of the clay object, there remains the potential for a digital reality if the clay is scanned.

I have had much success experimenting with home office scanners for the "Prepared Scanner - Compositions in Clay" project, but I would like to start using a 12.2" x 17.2" large format, professional grade scanner for the work. This kind of scanner will allow for more room to compose images on the scanner bed, and will produce larger, more detailed digital files when plugged in. Instead of doing a single, individual composition as I did on the earlier smaller scanners, I will keep changing the compositions on the large format scanner while recording each state of change. I will then create a selection of images which will form a book, both printed and distributed digitally.
Project Timeline and Budget

June-August: Acquire and Create
Over the summer months I will acquire the large format scanner and assorted colored plastilina clay. I will then begin the process of creating clay compositions in my studio and scanning and documenting each state.

September-November: Design and Production
After creating the body of work I will begin production on the book. I will work with a local printer on the physical edition. For my last book, Capture Physical Presence, I worked with G & P Printing in Chinatown, New York City. I will simultaneously release a digital e-book version for distribution.

December-February: Book release
An event to showcase the compositions and book release.

$2400 - Epson Expression XL-10000 Large Format Scanner (includes tax)
$250 - 100 lbs of various colored plastilina modeling clays
$1650 - Production cost for offset printed, full color book (edition of 100)
$4300 - Total
About the Artist(s) Involved

Travess Smalley
b. 1986 Huntington, WV
currently in New York, NY

2010 BFA at The Cooper Union - New York, NY
2006 Painting and Digital Printmaking at Virginia Commonwealth University - Richmond, VA

Transparent Silk Ripple Bouquet at Preteen Gallery - Mexico City, Mexico (upcoming 2012)
Soft Light Blend at Envoy Enterprises - New York, NY (2012)
Rendered Aura at Gloria Maria Gallery - Milan, Italy (2011)
Cosmic Goop at The Cooper Union - New York, NY (2010)

Image Object at Foxy Production - New York, NY (upcoming)
Haw-lin at The International Picture House - London, UK (upcoming)
E-Vapor-8 at 319 Scholes - Brooklyn, NY (upcoming)
The Untouchables at Saamlung - Hong Kong, China
Collect the WWWorld at House of Electronic Arts - Basel, Switzerland
USB Show at Point Ephemere - Paris, France
Dovble Trovble at CCA Glasgow - Glasgow, Scotland

PWR at The Future Gallery - Berlin, Germany
Bcc #6 - Post Truth at Reference Gallery - Richmond, VA
QR/ART at Portland Art Museum - Portland, OR
Art And Leisure at Colonel Summers Park - Portland, OR
Collect The WWWorld (curated by Domenico Quaranta) at Spazio Contemporanea - Brescia, Italy
Mobile Device at Bodega - Philadelphia, PA
Bartholomew at Mail Gallery - Paris, France
Distributed Collectives at Little Berlin - Philadelphia, PA
BYOB Venezia at The Venice Biennale 2011 - Venice, Italy
Metascreen at Gloria Maria Gallery - Milan, Italy
Public Interfacial Gesture Salon at Bard Center for Curatorial Studies - Annandale-on-Hudson, New York
Festival NRMAL at Alianza Francesa Mty - Monterrey, Mexico

Postermat at The Hole - New York, NY
Barriobajero Liked This at 23 Valverde - Madrid, Spain
Bring Your Own Beamer NYC at Spencer Brownstone Gallery - New York, NY
Realizing Solutions to the Immaterial at Gelman Gallery at RISD - Providence, RI
Dust Show at Amager Strandpark - Copenhagen, Denmark
‘The Fine Line’ for Movember at Thrush Holmes Empire - Toronto, Canada
Vor Gott Ist Alle Kunst Scheisse at Oktober - Düsseldorf, Germany
Short-Term Deviation at Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts - New York, NY
Sen-Oren “Trance” at Galleri Box - Gothenburg, Sweden
Speed Show at Or@nien Net - Berlin, Germany
The Pencil Show at Foxy Production - New York, NY
Troll (curated by CTRL + W33D) at Envoy Ent. - New York, NY
MtyMx Festival at Autocinema Las Torres - Monterrey, Mexico
Sculpture Storage at La Mama Galleria - New York, NY (co-curator)
QVNOXW at 86 Forsyth St. - New York, NY

2009 and before
Poster Show at The Cooper Union - New York, NY
Objects, Furniture, and Patterns at Art Since The Summer Of ‘69 - New York, NY
Abstract Abstract at Foxy Production - New York, NY
No Hay Banda at Reference Gallery - Richmond, VA
Screen Grab.1 at Nigtingale - Chicago, IL
Loshadka - Speed Conference Call Dating at Envoy Ent. - New York, NY
A Dry Run at Charlie Horse Gallery - Brooklyn, NY
τRξΔSVRΞ RθθM at Light Industry - Brooklyn, NY
Loshadka - LMIRL (curated by Laurel Ptak) at Capricious - Brooklyn, NY
SZEXSI ISLANDS w/ Thomas Galloway at The Cooper Union - New York, NY
This is a Magazine: Episode 26 w/ Loshadka (curated by Chiara Agnello) at DOCVA - Milan, Italy
Lixxard Gear w/ Loshadka at MTAA/Southfirst - Brooklyn, NY
The Great Internet Sleepover at Eyebeam - New York, NY

Capture Physical Presence by Travess Smalley


Travess Smalley by Francesca Gavin for Dazed and Confused Magazine issue April '12
The Scanner at Saamlung by Yin Ho for Rhizome
Interview: Travess Smalley by Brian Vu for Rebel
Travess Smalley, It's Nice That - Issue #6
Collect the WWWorld - The Artist as Archivist in the Internet Age by Domenico Quaranta
PWR PAPER #5 by Rasmus Svensson and Hanna Terese Nilsson
Ordered groupings, inheritance by Jesse Hlebo
Dust Show, curated by Piotr Łakomy
In conversation with Travess Smalley for CMD
Travess Smalley interviewed by Manuel Bürger in Lodown Magazine #75
Visual Essay by Travess Smalley for i like this blog
Positive Vibrations in Kinki Magazin #31
“Interview: Travess Smalley” by Dan Rosplock for Future Shipwreck
“Performance” by Gene McHugh for Post Internet
Sen-Oren “Trance"
PWR PAPER #2 by Rasmus Svensson and Hanna Terese Nilsson
Poster Company in Beautiful Decay Book 3: The Underdogs
“Ok Computer” by Kaela Noel for Interview Magazine Art Blog
“Max Pitegoff & Travess Smalley: Abstract Abstract” by Roger Van Voorhees for The Brooklyn Rail
“Art In Review: Abstract Abstract” by Roberta Smith for The New York Times
“Members Only: Loshadka Surfs the Web” by Brian Droitcour for Art In America
“Pink Laser Beam” by This Is (not) A Magazine
“Surfing Clubs” by Marcin Ramocki
“Lost Not Found: The Circulation of Images in Digital Visual Culture” by Marisa Olson for Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Artist(s) Work Samples

installation shot of prepared scanners from The Untouchables at Saamlung Gallery


digital image file from CanoScan LIDE35, 2012, Consumer-grade scanner, clay, and digital image


physical documentation of Epson Perfection 1650, 2012, Consumer-grade scanner, clay, and digital image


collage #15 from Capture Physical Presence 2011, self published book, 8.5" x 11" in, 56 pages, 25 color offset prints, ed. of 50

Comments (2)

  • jude mc | Mon, May 7th, 2012 11:36 p.m.
    i want to vote for this one.. but i think it should be more about beauty.. and less about scanners ;) the book should just be titled "compositions in clay" with only a small anecdote about the process.. u know? really nice GL!

  • Travess Smalley | Tue, May 8th, 2012 2:29 p.m.
    Hey Jude. Thanks for your insight and encouragement. For the Rhizome Commission I think it's important to explain the technical means of this project and the role of the scanner in the creation process. Of course beauty is important, but a proposal based specifically on it doesn't make sense in this context.
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