18.06.2015 | Paper in the digital world

We use paper every day, in a variety of forms. Dealing with paper is second nature to us, because thanks to the virtually unlimited availability of the raw materials required for its production, paper has proven indispensable in every conceivable area of our lives.

We can no longer imagine a world without paper. Paper of considerable weight piles up on tables and floors, is lined up on shelves, bundled in archives and stuck to walls, clogs mailboxes and disappears every day in waste paper bins. Though the paperless office was predicted many years ago, the printers connected to PCs have today actually led to increased paper consumption. The production of paper as packaging material in the form of boxes and hygiene papers has risen immensely in recent years.

On the other hand, our formerly paper-bound personal organisers are today stored in the “cloud”, replaced by the digital calendar in our smartphone or tablet. The books in our bookcases are vanishing onto eBooks, and bulky mail-order catalogues have been supplanted by Internet shopping.

What role does paper then play today? Is it still a carrier of information and documentation, still a storage medium with an eye to future generations?

The transition from the oral tradition to written records is a fluid one in all cultures. Knowledge in written form is the prerequisite for verifiable theories, for the passing down of history, for thoughts, worldviews and values. The printed word, in “black and white”, is the basis for philosophical and social discourse.

What first sparked the beginning of writing and the invention of writing materials was probably the human need to permanently record signs, messages and knowledge, and to share them with generations to come. Ancient civilisations used stone, metal, wood, wax or clay tablets as information carriers. Then came parchment, papyrus and finally paper, which could be manufactured in larger quantities and transported and stored more easily.

Paper is a versatile material that can be made from a wide variety of resources and using diverse methods of production. And the purposes it has been used for throughout history are just as varied. In Asia, paper was made mostly from the inner bark of the mulberry tree and had a texture that lent itself to a range of functions. In the West, paper was made for a long time out of rags, until in the 19th century the use of wood pulp brought a breakthrough that enabled industrial production. In the 20th century handcrafted paper lost its importance as a material for painting, printing, drawing and writing, due in part to the development of the electronic media, which were able to transmit information much faster. Paper and the printed word, whether as book or newspaper, became dispensable.

Whereas the printed word was for a long time the basis for documenting the exchange of knowledge, today’s digital availability of news, information, films and social media has added a new and different new dimension to communication.
The veracity and the information sources behind the knowledge available on the Internet are often not readily verifiable. Manipulation through deliberately deployed false information or sugar-coated truths is more common than ever.

Is paper today nothing more than a raw material, mere waste, an artistic medium? Is paper entirely losing its meaning as a conveyor of information? Will the smell of a book hot off the press, the sound, the surface texture of paper, the act of leafing through pages soon be things of the past? The printed newspaper, unwieldy to read, containing columns that might not be of interest and already outdated and nothing but waster paper by the next day, has outlived its usefulness, because more up-to-minute information is available online much faster. And as for books – on an eReader we can store more books than we will ever have time to read.

But what happens later when hard disks can no longer be accessed, when DVDs and CDs can no longer be “read”, when a virus paralyses our Internet connection? Printed paper needs only the reader – no screen, no electricity.

An appreciation of the beauty of paper in all its variety threatens to get lost in our day-to-day lives. Artists already discovered paper’s special qualities during the last century and adopted this unassuming yet precious material for their works. Paper art is thus able to reawaken our awareness, our sensitivity for this material we take for granted.

Works made from corrugated cardboard, tissue paper, catalogues, books, recycled paper, plant fibres – painted, cut, torn, glued, deformed ... on second glance ... it is the paper ... not the paper printed with writing but the paper itself that takes us by surprise. Compared with other materials used by artists, there is none that is as diverse in its nature, based on the many different raw materials used to make it, and which allows for such a diversity of processing options. Its dimensions are astounding as well, from the folded origami just a few centimetres in size all the way up to room-filling installations.

17.06.2015 | statement about my paper artwork

Paper is everywhere in our world; massed produced in a highly mechanical way. Even in the age of the computer we still manage to use tons of paper. Manufactured as a flat surface and used mainly as a substrate for word, pint or drawing, paper can be uninspiring, but to an artist papermaker it is a wonderful malleable, textured, organic raw material with endless possibilities.

Information has become inflationary. Libraries are being digitized and encyclopaedias are available digitally, while discussion forums on the Internet are temporary and constantly change. We are under the illusion that we can find out anything, at any time, anywhere.
My works in paper interrupt this constant flow of data and pool the overflow of information to transform it all into a form of informative garbage. Information is self-sufficient.

The books are cut, folded and thrown together – you can read them, but the text can only be fragmentarily decoded. The entire story of the book is used but cannot be read anymore. Catalogues are printed to show a range of products. The images are still there but have been changed to a new format.