The Disjunctive, Dilemmatical Printing Press (For the Dissemination of “Save the Trees”: A Woodcut Print” With Cast Irony Elements)

Dimensions variable

Eastern red cedar, cast iron, cast aluminum, “Save the Trees: A Woodcut Print”


I’m intensely interested in the potential for disconnect between the intended and actual functions of a machine.  That is, can a machine be intended to accomplish one thing, but end up doing the opposite, while still functioning perfectly?

In order to explore this possibility, I designed and built my own printing press.  The press was intended to be usable by any gallery-goer.  As a result, it could be operated simply by cranking its handle, raising and lowering the platen and automatically feeding paper through the press, much like a letterpress.  

To simplify the operation further, the printing matrix (the image being “stamped” by the press) was incorporated onto the platen itself, so the press could only be used to print one image— in this case, a poster reading “Save the Trees.”  Over the course of a gallery show, viewers would crank the handle, depositing spools of paper on the gallery floor, all bearing the slogan, “Save the Trees.”  The machine, which seemed to convey a “green” message, ultimately ended up wasting paper.  Thus, the viewer must choose between supporting the slogan (by cranking the press), or supporting the actual cause it represents (by leaving the press alone).