Kent State 1970 is a 15 colour silkscreen by Richard Hamilton. “A cine-camera films an event on a University campus in Ohio. USA. The scene filmed, almost by chance, in conditions not conducive to rational operations happens at a place hardly permitting accurate exposure or focus. The information recorded in the emulsion is urgent; it is processed and put into the hands of an American TV network or News Agency which transforms the image in the film frames into electric signals, later beamed at an antenna on a satellite orbiting the earth. The satellite passes on the signals to a tracking station in the south of England and electrons are ‘piped’ to a recorder, which duly notes the facts on a magnetic tape. That evening, the message is re-transmitted as a part of a BBC news broadcast to be detected by a TV receiver; information is decoded and divided among three guns in its cathode ray tube, they spurt out streams of electrons which excite, to varying intensities, spots distributed evenly in threads over the surface of the tube. Red, blue and green dots blink as they are scanned. Staring at the screen is a still camera. Still, until with a sudden snap it gulps the moving picture (if it was 8 mm originally 16 frames per second scanned 25 times per second, a gulp equalled 2 frames scanned 3 times). What does the subject feel buried in a layer of gelatine in the darkness? ”There is no known way to detect a latent image in a photographic emulsion except the process of development.” Out of the chemicals into the light another, this time random, mesh of coloured particles tells the story. The same message is there-the tone of voice is new, a different dialect, another syntax; but truly spoken. The two and a quarter inch square transparency now confronts a process camera to be sliced and layered. One slice carries no magenta, one cyan, one no yellow, another slice holds in reverse the tonal values of all colours. Different times of exposure through these separation negatives produce different positives which, when holding back varying amounts of light from an emulsion on a nylon screen, make some areas of mesh open and leave others closed. 15 such screens are used to print pale transparent tints on paper.15 layers of pigment; a tragic chorus monotonously chanting an oft repeated story. In one eye and out the other.”

From Richard Hamilton, Collected Words

Ever since I printed editions for artists at Printshop Piet Clement, Richard Hamilton’s Swinging London and Kent State have been a great inspiration for me. The number of the edition of the Kent State print, 5000, and as a consequence the print becoming very much affordable to buy in comparison with other prints by him made this for me a political act. When on Crete and in Rethymnon at a joint workshop organised by Athens school of Art and Slade School of London focusing on 1968 we were all invited to discuss and make work related to the year and Utopia, the general theme of the workshop. I wanted to set ‘Kent State’ in motion again and continue the lead given, as described by Hamilton above in his own words. I looked for an image of the print on Google and printed the found image on the A4 printer in the workshop. The printer gave me this distorted image and I decided it showed the technology better than a perfect print would have done. I went to a professional printshop in the city to have this A4 print enlarged to the ‘original’ size. Without explaining the technological details as extensively as Hamilton has done above, for me it was just a matter of continuing what he has set in motion. Using the presses at the Slade School of Art I also made a print, Continuation, Hamilton 2, this time based on a similar image from low resolution original and printed it on the inkjet printer to its original size.

See also Continuation, Monet, Lichtenstein

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