For this project, we had to create print ephemera and explore the notion of the 'copy' in everyday print. These could include anything from posters and paste ups, to pamphlets and flyers that are accessible in the public sphere. The objective was to come up with something socially engaging, and I decided to focus on the concept of hybridity and how in increasingly multicultural and pluralistic societies, we are not simply what we appear to be.
I drew on some inspiration from artists such as Sam Rodriguez, Gonkat Gyatso and Milan Milojevic, but I largely drew on my own experience of being a 'composite' of multiple ethnicities and cultures. There's a sensation of feeling fragmented and whole at the same time. Growing up - which alone has its challenges - it was frustrating to try and explain to others how I identified with my heritage, and I usually tried to avoid it (mostly because I couldn't). Now that I am in the midst of learning about past family histories, I've come to realise how extraordinary my mere existence is. There is so much beauty in this idea.
Hybrids are not a new thing - we see them in mythology, legends and fairy tales - but they are considered uncommon or rare. Sometimes they are beautiful or beastly, and perhaps they're very misunderstood. The artwork is intended to move the viewer to reflect on these ideas and perhaps reevaluate their concepts of what they consider 'whole' or 'normal' individuals, and how this aligns with their concepts of uniqueness, identity and perhaps even beauty.
I decided to start by selecting an assortment of animal images - some are familiar and some not so familiar. The idea is to allow people to construct new animals (hybrid animals) out of these 'whole' animal parts, and create articulated dolls.
I had to resize the images to ensure that the animal parts would fit neatly together.
After deliberating over the format of the booklet, I decided to create a hard ground copper plate etching consisting of four A4 sized pages. I also had to figure out how to arrange the animal parts (this took quite a long time as I had to also consider how parts would overlap so they could be attached).
After photocopying the prototype, I began to transfer the image using blue carbon transfer paper.
Here is the hard ground, pre-etching.
The photocopied print was used to create photocopies of booklets to be distributed in various places around Melbourne. I chose the State Library, Docklands Library, the Immigration Museum and a newsstand near Bourke Street Mall.
Here is the 'original' printed etching.
And here is a pile of the final copies, ready to be distributed.
Last, but not least, a little colour was added with stamped scissors on the front page.
As humans, we are programmed to recognise, interpret and categorise patterns in the world. Making snap judgments based on what we see often leads us to making incorrect assumptions about people we encounter. Cases of ‘mistaken identity’ can occur in relation to ethnicity, culture, gender, age, body weight, names, and manner of dress.
This project is about making the invisible nature of hybrid identities visible, and acknowledging the beauty of being multifaceted, complex creatures. While it’s intended to be playful, it’s also intended to move people to question the prejudices and assumptions we make about the ‘freaks’ of society that do not fit neatly into a discernibly defined box.
After completing this project, I decided to aquatint the plate. Here's an image of part of the process. This requires 'stopping out' or blocking areas of the plate that don't require etching. Bitumen is painted over these areas first. After applying the bitumen, aquatint is sprayed evenly over the surface of the copper, leaving a mist of tiny dots all over the copper. These dots will resist the ferric etch, and the exposed copper will be bitten. Bitumen must be applied for each desired tone. Applying the bitumen is certainly the longest part of the process! The actual etch (which requires bathing the plate in ferric chloride) only takes about 30-60 seconds for each tone.