Features Printing exhibit paints audible portrait By David A.M. Goldberg Nov. 3, 2013 Mahalo for supporting Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Enjoy this free story! COURTESY DAVID A.M. GOLDBERGCOURTESY DAVID A.M. GOLDBERG Read more Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser! You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription. Subscribe Now Read this story for free: Watch an ad or complete a survey Log In Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story. Activate Digital Account Print subscriber but without online access? Activate your Digital Account now. Paper. Ink. Pixel. Sound. Those familiar with printmaking will recognize the first two items. But how does sound and the lowly pixel (commercial, disposable, popular) relate to an art practice that is nestled comfortably in the canon of modern art history? Traditionalists might assert that printmaking masters like Robert Rauschenberg had a "Photoshop mentality" before the software was invented. Though possibly true, they forget that printmaking was once dismissed as commercial, disposable and popular. Faced with such conservatism, "Convergence: Glitch_Click_Thunk" channels the do-it-yourself manifestoes, punk (anti-) sensibilities and artistic experimentation of the 1980s into a relatively radical and defiant interdisciplinary statement. ‘CONVERGENCE: GLITCH_CLICK_THUNK’ >> On exhibit: Through Dec. 6; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays to Fridays and noon to 4 p.m. Sundays >> Where: University of Hawaii Art Gallery, UH-Manoa campus >> Info: 956-6888 or visit hawaii.edu/art/exhibitions/art_gallery >> Also: Visit website for public classes and events related to the exhibit. The University of Hawaii Art Gallery has become a hands-on factory, laboratory and studio that has engaged students, faculty and curious passers-by. The outer edges are occupied by a variety of printing systems: two manually operated printing presses, a large-format color printer and a computer-controlled lathe and 3-D printer built by the UH architecture department. Laid out to reflect 19th-, 20th- and 21st-century technologies, walls define a semi-enclosed central space featuring two video projections by featured artist Mark Amerika. A hand-pulled red wagon plays the role of time machine and shuttles art and materials between the eras via an overhead bridge. The outsides of the walls are covered in sheet metal adorned with a constantly changing array of magnet-mounted prints produced by, instead of for, the show. These uncredited images range in quality from the photocopies and laser prints that seed the entire creative process to huge archival quality prints of great visual impact. Produced collaboratively by students, Amerika and faculty, they are arranged in a grid-based collage reminiscent of a tray of movable type blocks. Each subject — a hybrid portrait of the presidents on our currency, cuddling bunnies, a totemic tower of animals, a dog-headed man, abstracted Polynesian tattoos or bold text — began its life as a digitally scanned image. Scans are printed and turned into a "paper plate," which is inked (the ink sticks to the toner) and deteriorates with every run through the press. Some of these prints are displayed, while others are scanned again for large-scale output. All the possibilities of sharpening, blurring, adjustment and layering are available in this digital intermediate phase before the image returns once again to ink on paper. Meanwhile, a network of contact microphones picks up all the bumps, scrapes, thunks and mouse clicks of this art-making process and amplifies them into rumbles, shrieks and percussive impacts that sound throughout the gallery. There is even a theremin (an electronic instrument that plays based on one’s physical proximity to its antennas) to pick up and interpret movement near the presses. Taken together, this live sonic field renders an audible portrait of all the gestures that go into printmaking. These sounds link to Amerika’s abstract color video projections that complement the prints’ stark (but texturally diverse) black-and-white tonal ranges. Amerika’s medium is "the glitch" or the "mistake," and it is the show’s gravitational center. Amerika uses the digital or electronic glitch: repetition, skipping, sudden shifts in resolution or clarity, to explore the essence of contemporary image making. The printmaking efforts that surround Amerika’s work are a tangible response to his process, and an invitation for any visitor to get into it. Just as artists like Rauschenberg and John Cage embraced contingency and accident, many students working through the show are expected to investigate the spectrum between analog and digital printing "errors." All of the works on display embrace this incorporation of degradation, imperfection and noise. The show’s director, Rod Bengston, and lead artists, UH faculty members Peter Chamberlain, Charlie Cohan and Scott Groeniger, are all familiar with similar strategies found in avant-garde art, punk, dubstep and early hip-hop. For many students this experimental approach has been liberating. This has been a year that celebrates printmaking through the 85th annual Honolulu Printmakers collective show at the Honolulu Museum of Art School, a parallel exhibition at Ektopia, and Gallery ‘Iolani’s "Lineages." It is significant that these three shows respectively focus on celebration, alternatives and histories. UH’s "Convergence" is an experimental engagement with the future of the medium that, possibly for the first time, aligns the art department with UH-Manoa’s classification as a "very high research activity" university. Now go pull a print and make some noise. Previous Story Get acquainted with horses at Kualoa Ranch Next Story Welcome to the world of 'Wumo'