Paul Kneale’s “Post-post-post-production” paintings are the result of an innovative technique involving the use of scanners. For Kneale, 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”, which highlights his opinion on technology.
Scanners function as follow: a LED strip produces light, which moves under a glass plate, and reflects whatever is above the bed. Simultaneously, a sensor captures whatever is above the glass plate.
The content of the digital file, which results from Kneale’s scanning technique, is shaped by several factors he plays with. The intensity and type of light, and the materials Kneale feeds through the machine’s printing function, such as crumpled transparencies, will all have an effect on the outcome. The artist also varies the exposure time of the scans. All these aspects express themselves differently, depending on how Kneale manipulates them.
The digital files, which are eventually printed on canvas, make up the painting – Kneale does not make alterations on the computer or the canvas itself. Although he has a certain degree of control over the process, he lets the scanner translate and transform his input into its own words. He thus acknowledges the impact of coincidence / chance on his art, as he cannot fully control the scanner’s processing. He can solely alter the input he provides. Furthermore, scanners will read what is above their glass plate differently: they each have their personal visual language. The results, in terms of colour, distortion and depth, are thus a co-production of Kneale and the scanner. Kneale views “productive misuse” as “a way to understand things”.
The colours and colour-mixtures obtained from this digital and printing process are unique and unachievable with paint. The painting “Performative Empathy” is a good example, as the harmonious flow of colours in this subtle artwork is clearly reminiscent of these processes. “This material (canvas), aside from its historical use in painting, allows an amazing depth of colour and detail from the inks used”, Kneale says. You can see that very well in the faint vertical lines. The trompe l’oeil effect achieved by Kneale’s technique is evident in “Performative Empathy”, which is also a good example of the slight blur the scanners create at times, adding to the ambiguity the viewer encounters with these innovative non-objective paintings.