Tuesday, May 5, 2015


One of the first exercises I gave myself during my second semester was to make a small copper plate that I could alter through various editing processes. Since one of my key topics is the disappearance of the dry forest, I started with a drawing, or rather etching, of a typical Chaco forest (Chaco I).

Chaco I.
Etching, Aquatint, Chine-Collé.
30cm x 30cm. 2015.

For the second stage I rigorously scraped the plate to re-create the changes in the landscape on my plate with the forest slowly disappearing. Despite my rigorous scraping, the image still looked rather neat (see center left part of Chaco II). I've always wanted to try an open bite on a plate and here was my chance, hoping the open bit would attack the plate more rigorously than my scraping did. I stopped out the middle part of the plate so it wouldn't be affected by the acid. For the open bite, I simply put the plate in the acid without any aquatint on it, so the acid just etched away the surface. I left the plate in for about an hour. The result was quite different from what I expected. a) it was much cleaner than I had anticipated, and b) I hadn't cleaned my lines very well it seems, so the ink or grease residue worked as a resist in the acid while it bit all around the lines. The lines were quite raised in the end, almost like a high relief collagraph and I ended up scraping them down a bit. Another interesting thing happened: the plate showed a vertical linear dripping pattern on the surface of the plate. I etched the plate in a vertical tank and apparently the trickling down of tiny copper particles during the etching process somehow worked as a resist and resulted in an uneven surface etch.

Chaco II.
Etching, Aquatint, Open Bite, Chine Collé.
30cm x 30cm. 2015. 

For the third stage I drew a grid over the whole image. I did a stage-bite aquatint to recreate the land surveillance process and to imitate the aerial views/satellite images of the area after the forest has been cut for ranching. I don't think the third plate is quite resolved yet. It's a bit too blocky I find. Maybe I'll tackle it again in the future to fine-tune it a bit more, or I may just leave it as an exercise. I do like the interplay between the layers of the plate, between what was before and what is now.

Chaco III.
Etching, Aquatint, Chine-Collé.
30cm x 30cm. 2015. 

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