As a 15th-century art form, Intaglio printmaking has been stubborn in the face of technological advancement. The same tools used by Rembrandt and Blake still have a place in the 21st century. But in other mediums, artists have taken advantage of aids like projectors, laser cutters, and 3-D printers. Recently, a painting made by an Artificially Intelligent program sold at Christies Auction for $432,000.00. To some people, these advancements seem to devalue or compromise the artist and their skills. Nevertheless, I optimistically see a future where technology brings art to a new place.
Playing out these concerns, I decided to use Cornell’s CNC Router to complete an Intaglio engraving. The robot can engrave much cleaner lines faster than a human hand. So using Lightroom and RhinoCAD, I designed a humanoid image that was further distorted through programming alterations. With a second plate, I made another design with the purpose of challenging my engraving and etching skills.
Both the form and imagery of the two plates echo the idea of a "reverse Turing test" where instead of a computer trying to pass for human, I try to make my technique indistinguishable from the CNC routers. The human-made plate resembles the early computer art of the 50s-70s that was primarily vector based, focused on geometries and symmetry. In contrast, the second plate mirrors the work of more sophisticated programs, characteristically more organic and freeform.
The final project has two plates (untraditionally) printed together, competing for the viewer’s attention and depicting the tension between technology and the human.