Ian Talbot: Retrospective 0-9 Third State :: Altered States







Chapter 34 of the ongoing series Ian Talbot : Retrospective by British fine art photographer Ian Talbot.







0-9 Third State :: Altered States



© Ian Talbot


“In printmaking, I think it would be perfectly reasonable never to destroy the images on the plates and stones, and always to have them available for use in new works, new combinations.” Jasper Johns

I have been thinking a great deal lately about printmaking; not any particular method but rather the whole concept and process. In the past I have always tended to edit my images to the point where I’m satisfied and only shown the result of my final choice, the last stage in the editing process as it were. Usually, along the way, there would be various stages that would either be refined or rejected. Always the search would be for my definitive statement on any particular image.

An interesting aspect (for me perhaps the most interesting) of the work of Jasper Johns has always been his practice of revisiting older work to explore further, especially in light of his more recent work. For Johns it has been a way of “catching his breath”, as it were, before moving on to new issues and concerns. Most often he has done this through the medium of printmaking…

State – Different states of a print that may reflect any intentional changes to the matrix that are recorded by printing one or more proofs.

Johns has made much use of the concept of “states” or variations in the way he prints from already prepared plates using various methods and recombinations of imagery he has previously employed. For me, a study of this methodology was akin to a light bulb going on… why restrict myself to just one definitive statement on any given image? All the more so in my case where in their digital state they were ripe for re-editing and re-interpretation. Why not explore new combinations of past work and alternative methods of presentation? Why not indeed? I am certainly not hampered by any restrictive, purist notion of the sanctity of the photographic image.

Foul-Biting – Irregularities that occur whenever an etching ground fails and allows the acid to attack the plate indiscriminately (also called false-biting).

For my first foray into this new territory I have chosen to show some of the process that went into the creation of the image “0-9” (part of my “Figuring Jasper” project). The original “pristine” state of the individual numbers images being digitally “distressed” in a way to replicate the visual appearance of what may happen when “foul-biting” (see above) occurs, often an “unhappy” accident but in this case, and to my mind (and Johns too incidentally), an interesting one. The last three images illustrate the method by which I arrived at the “final state” of “0-9”, a combination of the individual “numbers” elements.

This is not a “re-interpretation” of this set of images, obviously, but that is certainly something I shall return to and explore further in this projected series. Neither may I restrict myself to purely digital means. This feels like a whole new area opening up. We shall see where it may lead…


    Ian Talbot

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