The multidisciplinary artist Andrew Hazewinkel will be exhibiting a new installation of works in Melbourne Now. Three large-scale prints depicting the backs of the heads of archaic and classical sculptures are positioned together giving the appearance of looking out together into an eternal black expanse. Entitled Material Collision [staring together at the stars] 2013, the images have undergone a process of retrieval and transformation – sourced originally as nineteenth century glass plates from the Marshall Collection in Rome, Hazewinkel digitally extracts details and reworks the portraits, eventually printing them as screen prints on a carborundum sandpaper surface. I asked Andrew several questions about his processes, techniques and the ideas which underpin this unique body of work.
MF: Can you please describe your technical processes used to create these images on carborundum sandpaper?
AH: Carborundum is a compound made of silicon and carbon; it is closely related with silica, the main component of glass. These compounds describe a material cycle through which my images are made. The cycle turns through a process that combines early photographic artefacts with digital technologies and hand processes.
Researching the photographic glass negatives that document archaic and classical sculpture held in a photo archive in Rome; I select images from an uncatalogued collection, and digitise them at very high resolution. Then I manipulate the digital files, cropping and rescaling, drawing out new expressive possibilities.
Next, image specific dot screens are applied to each file, maximising the detail in both the original sculptors hand and the marks on the glass made by time. The images are then hand printed, [in negative], onto sandpaper, a traditional sculptors tool.
MF: You have described the ‘Material collision’ series as ‘reviving forgotten objects of antiquity’ – can you please expand on those ideas, and discuss how the objects are revived?
AH: Cycles of burial and exhumation are closely related with a sense of loss, forgetting and memory. Photography also has a close relationship with these senses.
The series of reverse portraits that comprise Material Collision [staring together at the stars] are reworked early photographic documentation images of ‘rediscovered’ objects; objects that lay in limbo underground for thousands of years.
The glass plate negatives from which these image details have been taken, also lay suspended in limbo; the limbo of a forgotten archive.
In this context I use ‘reviving’ as a term closely linked with the idea of resurfacing or bringing back to consciousness. In these images, the revived object acts as a carrier of the new ideas expressed though their reworking.
MF: Where do you source the original images from?
AH: The starting point of these large format screen-prints is the extensive visual survey that I made of 670 uncatalogued 19th C glass plate negatives documenting Archaic, Greek and Roman sculpture comprising the Marshall Collection, held at the British School in Rome.
I was introduced to this important collection on the last day of my 2006 Australia Council for the Arts studio residency in Rome. Since then I have continued an independent research on this little known but significant collection.
All three images that come together in Material Collision [staring together at the stars] are digitally extracted details from negatives in the Marshall Collection.
MF: More generally, can you please discuss your fascination with representations of archaeology and the past?
AH: Examining the objects of other times [and their documentation] provides me with a means of understanding and commenting on our time; working with this material exposes a layered co-mingling of time. I am interested in the un-classical side of the Classical World; the psychological terrain first explored by the Surrealists.
The damaged, broken bodies of antiquity interest me more than whole or complete sculptures. The break site, [or injury], is important as it enables me to consider both the material from which the object is made, and the symbolic form it has been given; at these sites it is both not, and made.
I am fascinated by how we respond bodily to these ancient objects, and by their continuing capacity to address the contemporary social condition.