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Melencolia I is a 1514 engraving by the German Renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer.

Special issue of Art in Print

Written by Susan Tallman
Published date 27 March 2019

As part of the task of picturing the invisible Art in Print invites Picturing the Invisible network members to contribute a brief discussion of a work of art for its or the September 2019 issue.

This might be a work of contemporary art, a historical diagram of the hidden, a Symbolist or Surrealist print, or any one of thousands of other possibilities. The only real requirement is that it in someway interacts with print.

Chief Editor of Art in Print, Susan Tallman compiled a list of potential subjects-works of art that struck her as resonating with some of the methodologies, questions, and ideas broached during the first Picturing the Invisible workshop.

Vija Celmins, The Stars (2005), artists book

'The Stars' contains three etchings by Celmins: one (the cover) carefully reproduces the worn cover of an early 20th-century Japanese book; the second is a double fold-out on translucent paper is a negative image of a night sky. Celmins precisely redraws photographs of the night sky (not only the position of specific starts but their brightness and halation). The third is a line etching that hints at her method. The texts, by the writer and translator Eliot Weinberger, are descriptions of stars, culled from many sources in many languages.

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Vija Celmins, Black and White Diptych (2010), mezzotint

Here Celmins pairs painstakingly made positive and negative images of night skies, but defies the expected symmetrical reflection.

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Edgar Arcenaux, 1968 (2005), etching

In this work, the image is redrawn from a photograph taken seconds after the shooting of Martin Luther King. Arcenaux shows only the people on the motel balcony with King, all pointing up and across at persons and places invisible.

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Claude Fayette Bragdon, illustrations for A Primer of Higher Space: the Fourth Dimension (1913)

This book contains most famous images of the shadow forms produced by a falling cube on pages 72 and 82.

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Dane Mitchell, Perfume Plumes (2011)

Mitchell's prints were made by rolling ink out on a surface and spraying it with on shot of perfume (different perfume for each). The bloom of white spots is simply the record of the chemical interaction of ink and perfume. Incidentally, Mitchell is representing New Zealand at the Venice Biennale this summer, with an installation naming vanished things, from discontinued perfumes to supernovae.

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X-ray of Albert von Kölliker's hand

Wilhelm Roentgen’s first x-ray of his wife’s hand (1895)

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Alyson Shotz, Topographic Iterations (2014)

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Nadia Kaabi-Linke, Berlin à Fleur de Peau (2010)

Nadia Kaabi-Linke's prints are made by dusting public surfaces with fingerprint powder.

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Susan York, Achromatopsia I (Yellow, Red, and Orange) (2015)

Susan York's prints are about the inability to see color. The artist interviewed color blind people and asked them to select grey scale colors that looked the same to them as a yellow, red and orange. The front of the paper is printed with the relevant grey; the back with the color they were trying to match. The paper is mounted a few millimeters above a white backing, so the color reflects off the backing, causing a kind of indirect chromatic glow (for those of us who can see it).

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Mel Bochner, QED (1974) portfolio of four aquatints

Bochner is a conceptual artist, interested in how we derive meaning from images and language. In these prints, he uses dots that reveal mathematical and spatial relationships, if we approach them analytically, and meaningless visual patterns if we don’t.

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Mel Bochner, Rules of Inference (1974), aquatint

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Melencolia I is a 1514 engraving by the German Renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer.

Albrecht Dürer, Melencolia I (1514)

The original cryptic print! Very well known, but there is always something new to say about it.

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Bethany Collins, Help Me to Find My People (2018)

This piece by Bethany Collins is from a series in which she blind embossed reproductions of Jim Crow-era newspapers in black-on-black or white-on-white.

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Antoine-Henri Becquerel’s photographs of radioactivity, reproduced in Recherches sur une propriété nouvelle de la matiére (1903)

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Image of Becquerel's photographic plate which has been fogged by exposure to radiation from a uranium salt. The shadow of a metal Maltese Cross placed between the plate and the uranium salt is clearly visible.

And, for your entertainment: the online antiquarian scientific bookshop, J.F. Ptak, has been running a blog about book and illustration oddities for many years. One category of their concerns is 'Blank and Missing Things,' and one subset of that are the overlays often used to identify people or things in complicated photographs.

Scroll down on this page to 'Blank and Missing Things: Astronomers.'

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