|dc.description.abstract||This studio-led research project describes how office-based digital and analogue
techniques can be combined to execute an artistic process that I have termed “digital
frottage”. In a re-interpretation of the historical frottage process, I propose that the flatbed
scanner is used to take automated “rubbings” of low-relief sculptural drawings created
with Blu-Tack. The research demonstrates how the historical frottage process can be
expanded by engaging with technology, and how our technological culture can only
continue to broaden artistic expression.
As part of the research, I have examined the link between historical frottage and
alchemy. This research has involved reviewing the methods of alchemy as pertaining
to Surrealism, where the subconscious rather than the conscious workings of the brain
can lead to the creative misuse of materials and technologies in ways very different
from their everyday functions. Alchemy is further exemplified when pre-existing
conventional Blu-Tack and technology are merged and transformed into artworks of
Each of my digital frottage artworks is the result of a series of actions that I view as
alchemical. These actions include object manipulation, scanning, cutting, montage, and
printing. In each of these actions, chance and disruption are present.
At a high level of abstraction, the digital frottage process is one of decomposition and
recomposition. Decomposing is looked at as a formless procedure where physical material
transforms into a digital code when in contact with the flatbed scanner. I interweave
critical writings from Georges Bataille, Rosalind Krauss and Yve-Alain Bois, who address
the formless in relation to decomposing.
Recomposing is outlined through montage, where fragments of different scans are reconnected
into a whole image through editing. When changing the physical material
Blu-Tack into the digital, I strive for an art form that is always presenting new visual
discoveries, moving beyond an exact trace of Blu-Tack to shatter its conception
and elevate the core quality of alchemy, “Mystery”. Mystery is pursued through the
intuitive play of chance and entered into the frottage process through manipulation and
suppressing conscious control to experiment with tensile qualities and compression of
Blu-Tack, electronic glitches, and ghostly effects achieved in the shallow depth of field
in material Blu-Tack’s digital transformation. This pursuit of mystery builds ambiguity
into Blu-Tack’s transformation into the digital forming a unique reframing of frottage.
The mysterious visual outcomes intrigue and confound the viewer’s certainties about
visual perception whereby they enter into a riddle to resolve the ambiguity present in the
Overall, this studio-led research has detailed a contemporary version of frottage using
material Blu-Tack and digital applications sourced from the site of the office environment
of the newspaper industry. The element of mystery within the digital frottage compositions
counters a visually oriented culture driven by the superficial. This superficial is rapidly
advancing by the dependency of more accessible and faster technologies to entertain us.
A particular repercussion of superficiality is that our technologies and entertainments
become devoid of the mysterious and revealing unseen hidden secrets of the esoteric.
The technology used in this investigation rather facilitates a more-in-depth exploration
penetrating beyond the obvious found in the mundane of the everyday. The artworks
affirm a position in the world, away from a sense of alienation toward an openness in