Interstices is an original silk screen print on Somerset paper in five colors with drawing on top.
We make silk screen prints by pushing ink through a stretched piece of mesh.
Images are made by blocking out parts of the mesh. We call this a stencil. There are all sorts of ways to make stencils. For Interstices, I used photographic stencils.
To make a photographic stencil:
- I coat a screen with a photosensitive emulsion and let it dry in the dark.
- I then place a transparency—an opaque image on a transparent background—on the screen and expose the two to light.
- Next, I wash out the screen with water. Any part of the screen that was covered by the opaque image washes away, leaving a thin stencil that is the inverse of the image. So, the transparent background in the transparency is now a green coating on the screen and the black image is now open–or uncovered–mesh.
- When I squeegee ink through the screen, it can only pass through the washed-out image area, creating a print that looks just like the image.
Interstices is a split edition, meaning there are two separate editions using the same screens.
I created one edition, numbered 1/30-30/30 for a print portfolio I organized about collaborations between artists and scientists. The other edition, numbered I/X-X/X, is a varied edition, which means there are variations from print to print.
More information on editions
I created Interstices in collaboration with Dr. Timothy Machonkin, a biochemist from the University of Rochester, for the Transformation: Artist/Scientist Collaborations portfolio project.
At the time of our collaboration, the visual graphs from Dr. Machonkin’s research bore an uncanny resemblance to my own work. Dr. Machonkin was developing techniques to study the structure of proteins containing metal ions that one can’t usually study using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR).
NMR is the pulsing of radio frequency on materials placed in a small chamber with a strong magnet. One can determine how the material’s atoms connect by manipulating energy movement through the material using pulse and delay of radio frequencies. The maps that I have employed in my piece show the tips of these radio waves, their intersections, and their amplitudes.
I was initially drawn to these maps by their visual correspondence to wood grain and fungal growth patterns, both of which I used frequently in my prints. As my comprehension of this data evolved, I became more interested in how data taken in time was converted to a three-dimensional space, which was then rendered in one plane.
Sound was reduced to line/signal and emptiness/silence. Without the gaps, the signal was meaningless. Spaces in the middle of what I recognized as wood knots were intersections of radio waves. At once, I saw sound interweaving, popping, and clashing—a sort of atonal music.
To create “Interstices”, I layered discordantly-colored fragments of Dr. Machonkin’s data to convey the simultaneous intermingling and repulsion of the wavelengths in his work. I also preserved the mechanized line quality of the maps to act as a foil to their organic patternings.
The resulting “pulse and delay” is more of a visual dance than scientific finding. Nonetheless, I would like to think that Interstices will cause viewers to begin to contemplate the nature of how visual patterns and languages are important to both science and contemporary art, and how the complexity of these systems might be better communicated through a joining of disciplines.