I have been given plenty of advice in recent tutorials about how to develop my concept further. Suggestions made during the last fortnight have included printing some of the messages or screen prints onto several metres of fabric and draping this from the ceiling in some fashion; screen printing on the floor and walls; or putting the messages cut from vinyl on these surfaces. I have explored the fabric route but even though the images were digitised, the fabric printing company I contacted advised me not to proceed as they felt the texts would not be legible. I’ve therefore addressed this by having a smaller banner made which I intend either to hang from the ceiling or display against the wall.
As the floor surface is dirty and uneven I was reticent about trying screen printing directly onto it and so arranged for a number of the texts to be printed on vinyl which has meant a considerable financial investment. I will be picking these texts up from the supplier on either Tuesday or Wednesday this week so will not have much time to play around with them nor practise the technique of applying them which I believe can be quite tricky.
Yesterday with the help of a friend I tried printing directly onto the floor and the result looked quite good. It will, however, take considerable time to print the A3 messages by hand on an area approximately 8 metres x 4 metres as each screen will have to be washed immediately after use to prevent the ink drying in the mesh. I am also aware of the potential dust problems caused by students, technicians and workmen in the space. With this in mind I am considering turning these problems to my advantage by making the prints appear distressed and imperfect, and maybe even faded and illegible in places. This would, after all, work well with the concept, whereas high quality prints might look too new and pristine. Yes, on reflection, I think the worn look that blends in with the background is far better. I will therefore work as hard as I possibly can this week to print as many texts as possible in this fashion.
To add interest and variety to the work I originally designed the prints as two distinct batches: one where the text was over-printed onto a background; the second where it was reversed out of the background. The screens were therefore made to meet this aim. But f I am to print in text on the floor, this second batch of screens will have to be re-made. I have just started to carry this out but it is something I hadn’t anticipated doing at this stage and it is, of course, eating into time which I had allotted to other work required for submission. Perhaps the tutor hadn’t anticipated this either as he knew how short a time I have before the deadline.
All this means that I could now use the vinyl to place messages on areas of the wall(s). Due to health and safety considerations, risk assessments and legislation such as the Working at Height regulations I am anticipating that I will not be able to place the messages more than half way up the walls. I will check this out with staff and technicians this week, and also find out the availability of suitable ladders if I am allowed to work several metres off the ground.
The coloured A3 screen prints have been trimmed, not all to the same size which I thought might look a little boring; and fixed to a support of plywood using felt nails and neodymium magnets. As the exact location of each print was plotted accurately to take into account its size, the prints cannot be re-arranged on the board without attaching more felt nails and running the risk of the unused ones being left in view. ( The nails cannot be removed as they are galvanised.) A tutor has also suggested commercially printing the original posters in monochrome which I have had done.
Another idea of mine is to print the messages, or parts of them, directly onto pieces of plywood using acrylic gloss medium as a transfer agent. I could then invite visitors to make up their own messages which could be placed on the long horizontal shelf running the length of the shorter wall. Alternatively, I could simply invite people to write examples of spurious messages they have seen onto small pieces of cardboard. I could the use double-sided tape to stick these onto a roll of paper running from the ceiling down to the floor. I have ordered a suitable roll of paper to see if this might work. This plan reminds me of the Complaints Day exercise which the Guerilla Girls organised at Tate Modern last winter. In the early stages, however, it would look rather boring! With unexpectedly having to remake the screens at very short notice as described above, I fear I will only be able to explore this option using the latter process. It is, however, something I could investigate in future for, say, the Surrey Unearthed commission which is still open to submissions.
I have also explored the possibility of screen printing a text at A2. Despite repeated attempts the results were disappointing. The technician then explained that although it seems a simple thing to do, it is actually very challenging technically as the considerable expanses of wet ink cause many problems. Indeed, the prints frequently became stuck to the bottom of the screen, thus ruining the end result. Not even the technician, who has years of screen printing experience, could manage to pull a perfect print despite several attempts. One could therefore view this exercise as a pointless waste of time; however, I am trying to think of it as an exploration of some of the limitations of the screen printing process.