Monday, 5 January 2015

#crimewatch


Why Crimewatch?
This was one of the first trending topics I recorded when I started the #trend project. #trend is a little box containing a thermal printer and an Arduino board. When the button is pushed it prints out the latest trending topics from Twitter - to be used as a source of inspiration for creating artwork.

When I saw Crimewatch trending it was during the showing of one of the TV programme on BBC. The thing about trending topics is that they tend to be about something which is going on at a specific time, so quite often it is a discussion surrounding television show or event as it is aired.

Working Quickly
My very first idea was to produce something which captures the time of the trending topic and publish it immediately - this would mean I feed directly into that trending topic and may pickup extra interest in my work.

I quickly looked up the Crimewatch website and noticed they post pictures of wanted criminal faces to coincide with each TV show. This immediately seemed quite strange and eerie to me. So through sketching I come up with these stamp sized portraits and I wonder if making these into actual stamps may be an equally strange and eerie juxtaposition to make, but also a good size to work.

I gave myself 2 hours from getting the topic to posting a picture via my Instagram account.

The original Crimewatch stamp papercut
Definitives
Thinking more about stamps I decided to look more into those strangely priced, lower values stamps, which are used to make up different values of common postage prices.  These stamps are called the Definitives. In 2014 the values of these were 81p, 97p, £1.47 & £2.15 - the idea that these are the lowest of the low values - it only seems right to associate these values with the wanted criminals (the lowest of the low people maybe?). It would also be a bit like printing the missing person on the side of a milk carton, using the faces on stamps would circulate them around the country more, in the hope that someone may recognise the criminals from their post. I am aware these are ridiculous ideas.

The internet is weird, this project is weird
Part of the #trend project is to understand how to use the internet in a more effective way for research and producing work - so Crimewatch was actually the start of an interesting project due to the nature of the topic and how I work with it. I imagine that each time I get a topic it's like being given a brief for a client based project, so this is like practice, but on my own terms.

I decided to pickup this as a larger, ongoing project to explore different techniques in printmaking, to quickly produce outcomes whilst I work on other longer term projects. At first, I couldn't fully explain why I was working on this as it is not connected to anything else I am doing, quite far from it actually. The good thing about working like this for me is that I satisfy an urge to produce work, but there is no pressure on the quality of the outcome which means that I can relax a bit when producing.

I do regret picking this as a project in some ways, but it has let me explore and learn some things I would not have thought about if I didn't. The draw towards it is that every month there is a new set of wanted faces posted and this would allow me to continue to add to the collection of stamps over time - it almost doesn't matter what, who or where the source imagery came from, what I am doing is practicing portraiture and printmaking, just happens to be pictures of criminals.

So with the idea that every month I may try out a different technique the 3 months I have done so far are as follows:

September 2014
Lino Print
Four reduction lino prints - each 3 colour





October 2014
Wood Engraving


November 2014
Laser Engrave
A bit more on these in this post about Advanced User Laser Workshop


Presentation
One thing I had not considered fully was what this was all for. Initially I thought that these prints would be packaged ready for exhibition of some sort. Upon thinking more there were a few issues I had to tackle
Titles & descriptions
My original plan was to display the artwork next to the name of the criminal & outline of the crime commited from the Crimewatch website, as below:
After some deliberation I though more appropriate to leave these untitled, and the description is only a description of the printmaking technique. Not knowing more about the criminal or their crimes, saves this project from becoming bad taste, but someone also said it actually heightens the mystery of each criminal. What I don't want is for it to seem like I am glorifying their actions in anyway by making them into a work of art.
Numbering & signing
Another thing I worked out was that I didn't feel comfortable putting my name against these works due to similar reasons as above, also that originally I though about making an edition of each but due to the next point I realised I only wanted to make these a one of a kind as they are not being made to sell or to make money.
Selling & exhibiting
One of the aims of the #trend project was to try and figure out more effective ways of selling my work, however this project has not allowed me to explore this aspect. They could potentially be exhibited and an idea I have for this is that the framed prints are packaged into a flight case style box which can easily be stored or transported to a gallery.
Online
Overall for presentation I worked out that most people would likely see these online so I built a small website to show each month's work. The website runs on Wordpress and is easy and quick to update each month. The site can be found: http://projects.studio-oh-no.com/crimewatch/