I have fond memories of playing with the giant copy machine as a child at my mother’s office. Such thoughts made me incredibly excited to read and inspired by Copier Art. The possibilities seemed endless! And, partially frightening, as the text asks “Does the machine have a creative soul of its own? One begins to wonder” (107). During my experiment creating some copier “art” (in scare quotes because I am not sure I would label my results as such), I had to wonder if the machine was influencing my intent. And what I discovered is that it is incredibly difficult, and would take significantly more time in planning a piece than I dedicated today. I made two pieces to explore two basic concepts of copier art, zoom and density. My piece playing with the zoom capabilities of the machine, titled “March of the Sad Lady,” proved to be the most difficult. After several failed attempts at arranging the paper in the manual input tray to guarantee the images were aligned on the page correctly, I began placing my image, moving it about, and changing the zoom. What I discovered is how difficult it is to picture a percentage of zoom on the large glass space in terms of how it will be represented on an 8 ½ by 11 piece of paper. Below are my results:
I feel particularly bad for the teeny tiny sad lady in the middle, obstructed by two larger sad ladies, whom I was intending to be closer to the bottom left hand corner. If anything I can say that at least my efforts were successful, it does look like quite a march of the sad, automaton ladies.
My second experiment was in density, or the saturation of image. This was accomplished by using the same source material, in this case a large fork with pasta, moving it about and changing the input. We can call this one “Ghost Fork.” I was expecting larger contrast between the lightest setting and the darkest, but overall I am pleased with the results:
After a few minutes experimenting, the controls of the machine became familiar, and I found myself laughing and smiling with excitement as things turned out and frustrated and scoffing when they did not. I was reminded of the instant gratification benefit of embarking on creative endeavors such as these described in Copier Art. The technology has advanced, although it appears to still be within the realm of those described in the 1980s. What interests me most is the ubiquity of the machine and how it no longer seems to have such an appeal, an aura of wonder, as it may have decades ago. Do children still place office supplies and found objects on the glass and make souvenirs from their trips to their parent’s office? The process reminds me of another long lost interest of mine, photography. Learning to use the dark room, to manipulate light and create your own saturations and zooms for your art came back to me in another rush of nostalgia. Like copier art it seems that the widespread use of such skills and techniques is fading from the general public as more digital means of image manipulation take hold. I am reminded of the introduction to Copier Art where “copier visionaries predict such marvels as instant copies of what a person sees, shot directly off the back of the eye’s retina” (18). While this still seems to be in our future, devices like Google Glass make it seem all too real.