Forensic fingerprint recovery techniques to be turned into art for Scotland’s inaugural print festival

Fingerprint from fabric - Joanna Fraser

As part of the inaugural Print Festival Scotland, the University of Abertay Dundee and the art collective Yuck ‘n Yum are teaming up to offer an artist-in-residency opportunity within the university’s ground-breaking forensic science department.

Working in collaboration with forensic scientist Dr Kevin Farrugia, the selected artist will get to spend up to four days in Abertay’s forensics labs, exploring the ways print visualisation techniques can be manipulated to recover finger- and shoeprints from crime scenes.

Proposals for the residency are welcomed from artists the world over, and there are no limitations as to what form the proposal should take: artists may already be involved in a print-based discipline, but could, equally, specialise in anything from sound installations to technology-driven art.

At the end of the residency, the artist will have the opportunity to exhibit their finished artwork at the inaugural Print Festival Scotland, which will run alongside the acclaimed Impact 8 International Printmaking Conference in Dundee this autumn.

The selection panel for the residency will consist of Clare Brennan and Dr Kevin Farrugia from Abertay University, Morgan Cahn and Alex Tobin from Yuck ‘n Yum, and the renowned print artist Dr Paul Harrison.

Speaking about what they are looking for and what this artist-in-residency opportunity has to offer those who submit a proposal, Clare Brennan, Curator of Abertay’s Hannah Maclure Centre, said:

“We’re looking for everyone and anyone with an artist’s practice to apply, and we’d like people to think as broadly as they can about this opportunity – they could propose anything from a series of prints or paintings, to something more immersive like a performance or sound installation.

“The artwork created during this residency – whatever it turns out to be – will be displayed and distributed within the context of the inaugural Print Festival Scotland, as well as shared with over 300 delegates who are coming to the Impact 8 conference, so it’ll be a great platform for an artist to showcase the work they do to a wide and varied audience.”

Dr Kevin Farrugia, whose work inspired this residency, explains why he got involved:

“My job involves developing techniques that enable us to visualise the prints people leave behind them, and I just thought there seemed to be a lot of overlap between the festival and the work that I do.

“People leave prints everywhere they go but often don’t realise they do this, because the prints aren’t always visible to the naked eye.

“We mostly use chemicals to enhance the prints, but there are specialised types of lighting and specialised photography we can use as well, so there’ll be a lot for the artist who comes over in June to learn about and experiment with.

“I only really look at the prints from a scientific perspective, so an artist will have a different take on the whole process, and it’ll be interesting to see what they come up with – not just for me, I hope, but for the people who come to Dundee for the Impact conference and for the print festival as well.”

The selected artist will have full use of the DCA (Dundee Contemporary Arts) Print Studio to develop ideas inspired by their time in the lab.

The Print Studio has some of the best printmaking facilities in Scotland, from the traditional printing presses right up to the latest digital and electronic forms.

There is a strong printmaking heritage in Dundee: the publishing company DC Thomson has been printing newspapers and magazines in the city for over 100 years – and it is from the printing industry that the techniques print artists use originate.

Over the centuries, as new inventions and developments were made in the printing industry, artists adopted and experimented with these techniques to make works of art.

Screenprinting, for example – made famous by Andy Warhol’s pop art prints – was initially used for printing cartons and boxes.

Etching – used to decorate guns, armour, cups and plates – was adopted by artists such as Rembrandt, Goya and Castiglione.

Woodblock printing, used by artists such as Edvard Munch, was originally used for printing letters in books and newspapers.

And lithography, which was used by Toulouse-Lautrec for his iconic posters of Parisian life, was also originally used as a method of commercial printing.

Artist and member of the selection panel, Dr Paul Harrison, talks about printmaking in Scotland:

“Scotland has a wonderful tradition in print – as is highlighted in the early development of the network of public print workshops, for example – and Dundee has benefited from it’s outstanding public print facility at the DCA which attracts artists from across the country.

“Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design is internationally recognised in the art world, with printmaking being an integral facet of it’s continued success. Current research in print practices is at the leading edge, building upon Dundee’s history and tradition whilst pushing the boundaries of innovation and new technologies – synthesising the historical with the contemporary.

“The hosting of the Impact 8 International Printmaking Conference in Dundee is recognition of the work that is taking place here, and this residency has a great deal, both culturally and professionally, to offer any interested artists.”

Morgan Cahn, from Yuck ‘n Yum, added:

“The Impact 8 conference coming to Dundee is a huge coup for the city, and is a testament to the quality of research and work being developed here.

“The theme of this year’s Impact conference is exploration, which fits really well with this residency– the artist is an explorer within these new forensic science techniques.

“The festival’s themes of exploration and interdisciplinary collaboration fit well with Dundee’s moniker as the ‘City of Discovery’. They highlight the city’s rich history of advancement in both printmaking, and science.

“We’re really excited to be able to offer this residency when so much creativity and innovation is happening in Dundee – I can’t wait to see what people will come up with.”

Submissions for this residency are now open. The deadline for submissions to reach the selection panel is April 19, 2013. The residency itself will take place the week beginning June 17.

Full guidelines and submission details are available here.


Notes to Editors:

  • The Hannah Maclure Centre is Abertay University’s exhibition space and art gallery. It works with contemporary and interdisciplinary cultural producers and artists from around the world, supports teaching activity, and develops opportunities with staff and students.
  • Yuck ‘n Yum has been sponsored by the Hannah Maclure Centre for the past few years and is making waves in the arts world. The black and white zine Yuck ‘n Yum produce comes out every quarter, and is distributed across the UK as well as, more recently, in Europe. They have a huge network of artists who have contributed work to the zine and participated in their many public art projects.
  • The IMPACT 8 International Printmaking Conference is an international forum for print artists and artisans, academics and educators, theorists and critics, curators and collectors, and suppliers of printmaking materials and presses.
  • Now in its 14th year, it is being organised in Dundee by Dr Paul Harrison and Professor Elaine Shemilt from the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design. The conference is held every two years. In 2011 it took place in Melbourne, Australia, and in 2015 it is expected to be held in China.
  • The theme of this years conference is ‘Borders and Crossings: the artist as explorer’ and is intended to celebrate the practice, concept and application of print and printmaking in its widest possible constituency.
  • It is a celebration of the cross-disciplinary nature of print and fits well with Abertay’s own interdisciplinary approach: the Hannah Maclure Centre is part of Abertay’s Institute of Arts, Media and Computer Games, and the Division of Environment and Forensic Sciences where Dr Farrugia works is part of the School of Contemporary Sciences.
  • The inaugural Print Festival Scotland will take place alongside Impact 8, which runs from August 28 – September 1.
  • Events connected with the print festival will be taking place across Scotland. In Dundee, all the major arts organisations are taking part including Dundee University, The McManus, the V&A @ Dundee, and the DCA.

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