The 4th IAPA Biennale Symposium Speech ⅩII Song Guangzhi



On November 13, 2022, the two-day academic seminar of “The Fourth IAPA Printmaking Biennale” was concluded in Kunming. The theme of this seminar is “Tomorrow's Printmaking”, exploring the future development of printmaking in the post-pandemic era. Yin Jinan, a well-known art theorist and professor of the Central Academy of Fine Arts,and Guan Yuda, a professor of Yunnan University, co-hosted this seminar. There will be 17 domestic and international guests made keynote speeches, including Joseph Scheer, Alicia Candiai, Peter Bosteels, Zhang Lian, Song Guangzhi, Kong Guoqiao, Yang Feng, etc. This seminar employed a mix of online and offline methods. Some domestic experts will discuss and speak on the spot, providing a brand-new communication and exhibition platform for Chinese and international artists in a special period. They plan the future development of printmaking by gathering printmaking leaders and elites from around the world. This is a speech by Song Guangzhi, Dean of the school of Painting, Guangzhou Academy of  Fine Arts.





A Discussion about the Future Development of Printmaking in the Post-Epidemic Era

Song Guangzhi

Hello, Mr. Guan, and colleagues in the printmaking industry! Before anything else, I'd like to express my gratitude to the Central Academy of Fine Arts, the International Printmaking Alliance and its president, Mr. Wang Huaxiang, as well as Mr. Zhou Jirong, the Yunnan Arts University and its president, and Mr. Guo, and our academic hosts, Mr. Yin Jinan and Mr. Guan Yuda.  

I was deeply inspired by the previous artist’s speech. “Printmaking Thinking in the Context of the Integration of Arts and Sciences: Exploring the Future of Printmaking in the Post-Epidemic Era” is the theme I decided on. It is especially significant to choose this topic as people in Guangzhou are fighting the still-raging pandemic.

I. New Opportunities for Art

1. While hindering face-to-face exchanges, the pandemic accelerates the development of virtual interaction technologies. COVID-19 has been troubling us for nearly 3 years, during which we have unconsciously undergone lifestyle changes. For us creators and educators of printmaking, we have evolved from passive acceptance to acquaintance with such new patterns as online teaching, lectures, dialogues, exhibitions, etc. This virtual world founded upon electronic products reshapes our time and space perception as well as our means of existence, thereby accelerating the digitization of the times and our society. Starting from this change, we foresee the post-pandemic era and the possibility of developing printmaking in uncharted territories.

The global art landscape is changing. Along with the initial trend of globalization, diversification, and juxtaposition of concepts and media, virtual art has grown more significant as a result of normalized pandemic prevention and control and social distancing. It could be argued that the fusion of art and modern technology has emerged as a crucial path for the current development of art.

2.While online art offers fresh perspectives on viewing and interacting with the world, art offers comfort for the “exceptional moment”. The words or phrases “communication of ideas”, “creation of the future”, “opportunity”, “sustainability”, and “mobility” perfectly describe the state of global art at the moment and its potential future development path. Art has the ability to unite people, aid in enlightenment, promote peace, and encourage sharing. In times of crisis, art, with its own resilience, has the power to unite and connect people. Art serves as a solace to the public during this particular period of social distance by showing warmth and vitality.

The pandemic-induced changes in people’s lifestyles have ushered in the “virtual” era of art. Online art, in particular, bypasses the time-space constraints of traditional aesthetic activities, offering art a genuine chance to permeate people’s daily lives; second, online art has altered traditional viewing methods and is now more accessible and interactive, which coincides with the recently popularized art concept of “immersion”. It takes into account the audience’s involvement, bridges the emotional gap between art and audience, and ultimately realizes the interaction and communication between them.

II. New Dimension of Printmaking

We have also been inspired to look at new printmaking dimensions by new technologies. When imagining the future of printmaking art, we must think about the questions of how to use the wonderful presentation and multidimensional interaction of visual images to create a platform for communication between the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences, and how to encourage a shift in people’s perceptions of the traditional collection and the copyright concept of works through its new concept of reproduction. On a practical level, each printmaker must go through a test on how to further explore various language methods, expand new materials and new ideas, use and operate new technology equipment and software, enhance creative thinking, comprehend the present in various dimensions, broaden cognition of the world, and reach the new thinking of the artistic boundary.

1.The emergence of brand new linguistic forms. The combination of technology and art has further disrupted printmaking's way of thinking, from the development of its ontological language to its reverse interpretation, leading to the creation of a new language code. For instance, some researchers’ proposals for “electronic color” and “network-based living” have upended the traditional art language in terms of color, communication, and interaction. In addition to being technical media, the Internet and screens are part of our daily lives. The new generation, which receives digital images and colors, will undoubtedly incorporate this experience into their work. Additionally, open printmaking has the potential to move into the digital and networked spheres, making the viewer's participation in the network an integral part of the artwork. The future history of printmaking is superimposed on a vivid individual case, and each characteristic and successful creative technique can be said to constitute a new dimension.

2. Today’s printmaking features openness from the perspective of contemporary art, particularly seamless connections with digital art. Printmaking is a product of scientific and technological advancement that should be inherently inclusive. As a result of the new artistic power, all theories and creative methods are constantly enriched and developed. What matters more is not the rich expansion of artistic style and representation form, but the change in artistic thinking, understanding of art, and artistic concept. The value of the experimental spirit is that it allows the original established stereotypes to be overturned and new life to be derived from them. Indeed, many outstanding artists’ printmaking have proven our imagination time and again over the years, showing that today's experiment could be tomorrow’s classic.

Reflection in the age of technology. As the tide of the digital age sweeps us along, we must dare to experiment with and explore media materials and concepts, look for breakthroughs, take the initiative to learn cutting-edge Internet technologies, rely on big data for management and operation, continuously explore and develop the rich treasure house of artistic resources, and apply the concept of knowledge generation to the process of image processing and dissemination.

In the post-epidemic era, our thinking and concern for a world where reality and virtuality are blended, as well as our empathy for the "global vision" of the community of human destiny, urge us printmakers to continue with the original printmaking while also expanding the possibilities in a wider space with the help of digital, "meta-universe," and other new technological elements in a comprehensive and diversified media form, showing our inner feelings and thoughts. We strive to constantly bring forth a batch of works with depth, quality, and vitality.

We must, however, thoroughly examine whether the adoption of new technologies like AI (artificial intelligence), VR (virtual reality), NFT (blockchain), meta-verse, and others has altered our present-day approach to creativity or whether it has more in common with an improvement of offline artificial methods and the development of multidimensional storage, interaction, communication, and marketing techniques. Even though this has been challenging to achieve, we should still advocate for a genuine shift in creative thinking and concepts.

But generally speaking, I believe that due to the irreversible trend of highly integrated arts, printmaking will adopt a more open and inclusive attitude, seize the opportunities of the times, maintain a pioneering stance, and write a new legend in the future of the post-epidemic era.