Prepared Scanner, a composition in clay (Travess Smalley, 2011)
Untitled (Jo-ey Tang, 2011-2012)
Rhizome asked Travess Smalley and Jo-ey Tang, two artists with digitally-based work in the upcoming group exhibition "The Untouchables" at Saamlung in Hong Kong, to answer the same question(s) via email.
Surface is a theme of this show: is there a particular way you connect the visual elements of your pieces to something non-visual? Considering each piece has a digital and physical aspect, would you expand on the relationship between the two forms? What do you consider your pieces to be made of (e.g., substance, bit, concept, etc.)?
Travess Smalley: I have always looked for ways to bring the home office into my studio practice. I mean, for most artists the home office holds many of the tools we use on a day-to-day basis -- inkjet printer, scanner, personal computer, even scotch tape and staples. I've always felt that my role as an artist and creator would be somewhat dependent on these tools. I mean, it's always been easier for me to find a mouse than a paintbrush.
Of all the home office devices, the printer/scanner is the most interesting to me. These are the two devices that convert the digital to the physical and back again. They are one of the few ports where the visual can get in and out of the separated digital and physical worlds. The printer and scanner have been my most important tools for the past few years. From my experiences and processes using them for artistic ends, I have come to think of my relationship to them akin to a contemporary printmaker. A home office printmaker perhaps. I've developed an understanding and elaborate choreography of process that attempts to blur the line of these convertors ...