I’ve been experimenting with using my Epson printer as an artistic tool. Whenever I’ve tried just printing out a digital image onto quality paper the result has left me a bit flat. The results are good but something about the image seems to die in the process. Left as a string of pixels, digital images can be resized, recolored, remixed, and distributed endlessly. Digital images have are a metaphysical quandary. You can look at the screen of your device and recognize a photo. But you’re not seeing the photo, you’re seeing a copy at a different size. The matrix of numbers making up the pixel data is literally different from the “original” image housed on the cloud. But to us it’s the “same” image. (If we’re ever able to 3D print a person, philosophy of mind might have to become a required class in high school)
When a digital image (painting, photo, whatever) is straight printed out, some of that infinite potential is lost and the image becomes static. Also paper doesn’t glow very much. Printing is a dull shadow of the digital image in most cases.
So what if we treat the printer like a paintbrush instead? I found an inexpensive roll of canvas designed for printers (not my printer, but some printers) and cut off sheets to the precise maximum size my printer will accept and started running off images. Then I run the same image back through the printer and print a second layer. Anything which is white is a “hole” in the image - the white of the page is intended to fill that role - and the ink itself is semi-transparent. Interesting layering effects occur as images are piled on top of one-another.
Now it gets interesting. Accidents can and do happen. My images become paint and the printer is the paint brush. It’s still a fast way to work but there’s not instant gratification as the printer must be allowed to do it’s work.
I like the physicality of images printed in multiples onto a canvas. The process is different from drawing or painting digitally or from designing digitally so it scratches a different itch. The scale of 13“ × 19“ is big enough to feel substantial.