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Alex Dodge – Forth Estate, The Legendary Coelacanth

August 23, 2008


Forth Estate produces compelling editions in “both traditional and technologically innovative print media.” The plate for Alex Dodge’s The Legendary Coelacanth was produced by an engraving machine; the work also includes a computer virus that accompanies each print on a memory chip. Such a gesture could seem gratuitous, but in this case the artist’s reasoning is really very thoughtful:
Compared to the coelacanth the human idea has merely just begun and with far more pitfalls, but our means of replication and distribution continue to evolve through spoken language, written language, the printing press, Guttenberg and so on. The means of reproducing and distributing multiples of text and images is relatively recent and though I believe that these evolutions in our means of distributing culture, all tied deeply to printmaking, are not mere innovations but were actually imperatives in the survival and maintenance of human populations and or society. The internet, in a matter of decades, has made that evolution a staggering part of our reality that continues to evolve. This print encompasses the range of that history being derived and assembled from multiple layers of imagery and culture through the use of computers and historic printmaking processes as well.
The secondary component to this edition, The Coelacanth Virus, is a computer virus that in its immateriality represents the essentialized form of that biologic/genetic/ideologic impulse in its simplistic ability or need to self replicate and self distribute itself. The chip that holds the virus however holds in itself a significance in the continuation of the printmaking process; as all microchips are in fact multi-layered photo-lithographs, so that a seemingly separate and new technology is actually tied very closely to something quite traditional in printmaking terms.