Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Arts and Humanities

First Supervisor

Dr Lyndall Adams

Second Supervisor

Dr Paul Uhlmann


This PhD practice-led research project provides a broad overview of how newer print technologies can bring about enhanced understandings of the world whilst simultaneously questioning the value of such processes in contrast to traditional means of image making. My curiosity pivots on the worry that something essential about representation of the real might be lost if humanity were to embrace digital methods only. Through my creative project I address my concerns to re-image representations of the real beyond notions of the original and the copy through contemporary printmaking. The research culminated in the exhibition Imperceptible Realities and an exegesis.

In examining Jean Baudrillard’s concept of simulacra this research argues for the continuing relevance of traditional etching techniques through a pivotal case study that scrutinised Rembrandt van Rijn’s etching The Shell (Conus marmoreus). In contrasting traditional etching techniques with newer methods of digital printmaking a significant copy, derived from a similar shell specimen that Rembrandt had observed, manifested itself in contemporary 3D print. The copying process focused the investigation into questioning the aesthetic value of this new shell in digitalised 3D form. In the contemporary printmaking field there is evidence for the continued integration of traditional and digital approaches to printmaking. New pathways were examined in printmaking to allow creative explorations of visual boundaries between contemporary images affected by digital erasure.

The innovative use of photogrammetry software focused the investigation into the effects of digital capabilities on image making. The effect of examining the digital relationship in contemporary printmaking revealed that ignoring aesthetic differences between the original and copy brought about by digitised re-imaging are seemingly lost at the expense of disengagement with the physical world. As a result digital and traditional spaces that meet collaboratively through print are advantaged in the 3D printed copy itself and employed to create new understandings in creative practice. Viewing observed differences in the 2D and 3D printed copy itself became key in creating new images, beyond a hybridised printmaking process—such understandings that examined the divisive relationship between digital and traditional printmaking processes becomes invigorated with possibility. This research posits such a position by suggesting that if traditions in the printmaking field are ignored by the continued digitalisation of images through and within the employment of technologies, something is lost. Perceptual experiences of the physical world are seemingly misplaced at the expense of replacing such immediate experience with simulacra and an inward bias toward the screen.

Adopting a practice-led research methodology revealed the subtleties of the ongoing relationship of digital capabilities affecting the materiality of traditional printmaking. The applications of innovative interdisciplinary discoveries to my contemporary arts practice drew on strong partnerships and collaborative relationships developed with the fields of chemistry, engineering and science. I applied these discoveries to my contemporary arts practice to examine the effects of digital capabilities and the materiality of traditional printmaking. To embrace conceptual growth creative work the research drew on philosopher Gilles Deleuze and psychiatrist Félix Guattari’s notion of the rhizome.

The presence of simulacra in the world has continued to expand as digital technologies proliferate. The application of traditional printmaking and digital printmaking through open thinking offers a different way to understand physical aspects of the world and create propositions that go beyond re-imaging the real.

Included in

Printmaking Commons