Paul Kneale, for whom a computer screen and a canvas share the same properties, “everything that happens on your computer screen is already a painting, if not a fancy one”, creates his “Post-post-post-production” paintings with scanners.
To comprehend the process, one must understand how a scanner works: scanners produce light through an LED strip, which runs through below the scanner’s glass plate. The light is reflected by what is above the bed. A sensor, which moves along with the LED light, captures the above. To Kneale, this is reminiscent of a brush’s movement.
Kneale’s process starts by allowing the scanners to capture their environment. The scanner’s lid is open to let the light (daylight, artificial light, dimmed light) and materials on the scanner’s glass plate express themselves. Kneale varies the exposure time, it can range from seconds to dozens of minutes, leading to different outcomes. The artwork is then stored as a digital file, which Kneale eventually prints on canvas.
The process is very important, as it defines the painting. Paul Kneale does not make further alterations by hand / paint. As a result of these factors Kneale exposes the scanners to, he creates images with unique impressions of colour, depth and distortion. By running low-grade transparencies through the printer, simultaneously to the scanning process, Kneale obtains the layering in his images. The cheap scanners have their own visual language: sometimes their interpretation or reading of colour is incorrect. In “Aphasia Tags” for example, transparencies placed on the glass came out as dark on the digital file created by the scanner. Furthermore, you find dots of colour here and there on the canvas.
Kneale works with the scanner’s disposition. The scanners follow his decisions, albeit him not knowing what exactly the outcome will look like, as his method involves chance or coincidence, which he plays with. Kneale is the mind, the scanner acts as a companion that unconsciously processes. To the artist, “productive misuse is a way to understand things”.
Kneale’s interventions with technology create physical artworks, through an intangible digital process. “This material (canvas), aside from its historical use in painting, allows an amazing depth of colour and detail from the inks used”. The process creates trompe-l’oeil-like visual effects, such as in the top part of Aphasia tags, where the tape seems to come out of the canvas.
Aphasia tags is a prime example of how Kneale’s non-objective paintings, with their conceptually innovative approach, deepen the possibilities and opportunities this medium offers.