Penny McCarthy



Output: Other

The body of work ‘COPY’ explores the ways that crossing a historic medium like drawing with technological viewing platforms can open up a space for thinking about the ways images are communicated and conveyed. The research drew extensively from disparate digital archives accessing images such as Goldsmith’s Iraq memo to Prime Minister Tony Blair, early drafts
of DNA theory, Bastien-Lepage’s unrestored painting of Joan of Arc (1879) and Jorge Borges’ handwritten notes.

Each work is a hand-made copy of a digital image or document reflecting on the role of the copy in the production of the cultural archive. Drawing as method invokes deep looking, inscribing the researcher into the source, in a way that is performative and processual in order to examine correspondences between image, reality, representation and presentation.

The drawings experiment with the material conditions of copying through production of close facsimiles of the digital source, citing and reversing the detachment from hand-made processes. Drawings on paper are made from digital images and drawn in a way that gives attention to the screen, its pixels and the glitches of digital transition. The copy, its referent, and the limits of reproducibility are examined through a process that passes each source image or text through media that exposes its granularity.

Something of this material granularity gets lost in the context of new reproductive techniques as the digital copy resists the trace of performance, and without the ghost of presence there is a more literal correspondence of meanings between ‘original’ and ‘copy’. The visual value of the surface is reclaimed as the layers composing the originality of the source are peeled back, extending copying into a closer attentiveness to matter as a counterpoint to the digital degradation of the referent. This research received the Evelyn Williams Drawing Prize (2019).

Research Output

This collection of images displays the outputs from this project. Find out more details in the full case study below.

Research Method

This study questions the role of the copy in the post-digital by putting handmade works in conjunction with digital images. There is something illicit, elliptical and even corrupt about the activity of copying.

Key Methodologies:

Full Project Output

REF '21

To learn more about the output, methods and dissemination of this work, explore the full project submission.

Other Projects By

Penny McCarthy