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Artists have used embossing techniques for centuries, but contemporary embossing has typically been relegated to the commercial or book arts. Notable exceptions are Albers’ ‘Embossed Linear Construction’ series with Kenneth Tyler (1969), and Do Ho Suh’s ‘Loving / Rubbing’ installation, a three dimensional paper recreation of his studio (2016). My approach for this series has been to view Hong Kong and its architecture as matrices for printmaking, specifically embossing. Instead of printing with machines, or creating printing plates for reproduction, I print directly from the city itself, by wrapping my body and paper around the vintage architecture that has protected me during our pandemic, inside a building which will be destroyed in coming years. The resulting blind embossed work is a direct impression of architectural heritage under threat, and a meeting of skin, paper, and metal. Prints are hand-tinted with water-soluble graphite, and are attached directly to the wall. The paper is thin ‘rice paper’, and prints move with passing air, thus the name ‘Ventilation Paintings’. This transient materiality produces a physical documentation of a city and world in flux that would not have the same resonance if made in any other time or place.
My conference presentation includes an introductory video showing animation (ventilation) of artworks by wind, and an artist introduction filmed in my HK Creative Arts Centre studio, surrounded by a selection of prints for scale. Slides describe inspiration and process. Then three time-lapse videos of embossing, hand-tinting, and layout of the edition. A brief video summary of the experimental streaming Quarantine Exhibition of final prints, tinted while locked in a Hong Kong hotel room for 21 days. And finally a description of installation plans for the artwork—part of a curatorial project including other artists invited to make or exhibit their work in the space.