John E. Earhart’s book, The Color Printer – a Treatise on the Use of Colors in Typographic Printing, served as the template for the photographic collection, Invariant Plates. This explanatory guide for polygraphists dating from 1892 offers, in addition to descriptions of printing processes, a large number of sample images that illustrate work with colours and raised print production.
Marianne Vierø broke down several of these pictures into individual colour layers, and in a darkroom she reconstructed them in the medium of colour photography. Technically speaking she drew from her own basic documentation of books and scans available on the internet. In her subsequent approach she made masks for individual colours and their use for multiple exposures of the photo paper to coloured light. It’s impossible however to understand the adaptation of one technological process to another as just a complicated path to the most precise photographic reproduction possible. The images don’t just go through reconstruction, or perhaps transcription to use a more exact term, from the perspective of medium, but also on the level of meaning. What exactly are these photo replicas of illustrations from a printer’s manual? How do we perceive their content and aesthetic (bound to the intent of the book to a large degree) in the context of a contemporary art gallery and mainly after more than one-hundred years of radical transformations to the creative arts and design? What spot would we give these photographs on the axis between their recording of phenomenal facts and abstraction? No matter if the first impulse to create Invariant Plates was a fascination with Earhart’s unwitting foreshadowing of aesthetic and processes for future art and his exceptional technical production of his book, its media transcription creates, as a result, room for broader contemplation on contemporary visual reality as a layered system of meta-images and references.
Marianne Vierø (1979) hails from Denmark. After spending a long time in New York, she moved to Berlin at the start of this year. Photography is an integral part of her multi-faceted work that also includes sculpted objects and installations. Invariant Plates is her first independent exhibit in the Czech Republic. However, we saw her photographs from the Potatoe Prints (2012) collection last year at the collective exhibition, Photography, Reconstructed, that was part of the Prague Biennale Photo 3 (curator: Pavel Vančát)
The exhibition was supported by Danish Art Foundation.