The Digital and the Physical: Anne-Marie Lavigne in the StudioMay 26, 2016
Anne-Marie seeks to make technology visible by translating it from the abstract into the tactile. To that end, her artistic practice combines traditional textile-making and printmaking techniques with digital imagery and materials. For her current project, she is working with a 3D modeling software called Rhino, used for prototyping and manufacturing in industries like engineering, architecture, and design. The grids of this program become Anne-Marie’s blank canvas; on them she renders shapes and objects in digital space, then turns them into minimal silkscreened prints. Through these processes, Anne-Marie pulls away the curtain and shows viewers how technologically-constructed their world really is.
“I see things like cars and chairs, and I know the command used to make them in Rhino,” says Anne-Marie. “We’re living in a 3D-rendered world.”
During her residency at WSW, Anne-Marie made a series of prints using what she refers to as “dynamic inks.” When printed, these inks are invisible. Once moved to a different environment, like a dark room or out in the sun, the ink is activated and the printed images appear. In past projects, she worked with thermochromic ink, which turns white when heat is applied. In the Silkscreen Studio, Anne-Marie worked with a UV ink that changes to deep lavender once exposed to sunlight, and a glow-in-the-dark ink that becomes bright green once the lights are turned off.
These dynamic inks enable Anne-Marie to explore new ways of creating surprising visual experiences. Once the glow-in-the-dark prints are brought into the darkroom, they cease to be flat pieces of paper and instead become levitating light objects that hover and recede into a black void. The UV inks, once activated, create shapes that slowly emerge from a blank while field and appear to pop off the page. This illusion of depth allows Anne-Marie to create a three-dimensional sense of space on a two-dimensional plane.
Anne-Marie is greatly inspired by Minimalism, particularly the work of Agnes Martin, and her glowing forms recall Dan Flavin’s fluorescent light sculptures. These artists pare down to the most reductive elements to emphasize the role of the viewer’s perception. Anne-Marie’s imagery is similarly bare, cutting past the extraneous to expose the underlying grids and shapes that compose the world around us.
“I’m fascinated by the fact that what you see depends on how you look at it,” says Anne-Marie. During her residency, Anne-Marie pored over the pages of various quantum physics textbooks. One of the pillars of quantum physics is that all quantum objects (like atoms) present themselves as either particles or waves depending on the tools used to study them. These objects occupy two states, with neither being more true than the other.
This duality is reflected in Anne-Marie’s prints, which change radically depending on where they are displayed. Three parallel diagonal black lines float on crisp white paper in a brightly lit room—but when suddenly the room goes dark, these same black lines become the edges of three glowing, translucent rectangles. In this way, Anne-Marie’s work plays with the limitations of visual perception, asking, “What are we unable to see? What aren’t we seeing in our daily lives?”
Despite her not-so-traditional materials and methods, Anne-Marie uses more traditional printmaking techniques to give her digital models new life in the physical world. The digitally-rendered forms created in applications like Cobra usually enter the real world as three-dimensional objects, but through silkscreen, Anne-Marie makes them tangible as pictorial elements in their own right. For her, following the physical process of hand-printing is key for achieving her technological aesthetic; she even registered her prints in a dark closet so that she could see her invisible inks.
“I use these traditional techniques because they ground me,” says Anne-Marie. “I need to feel that I’m connected to something that is beyond my very specific context.”
Anne-Marie Lavigne is an artist mixing traditional textile and printmaking processes with new materials. She lives and works between Brooklyn and Montreal, and graduated with an MPS from Interactive Telecommunications Program of NYU TISCH School of Arts. Be on the lookout for Anne-Marie’s textile company launching this September at tachitachi.us. See more of Anne-Marie’s work on her website at emeteuz.com and see more images from her residency on our Flickr.