Photocopy Machine Erotica: Lieve Prins

October 04, 2013

"The photocopy machine and scanner has become an iconic informal meeting place in offices throughout the world, a universal grey box suited only for talk around or over. But for more than 20 years, Lieve Prins has refined an ability to speak with and through this humble office-bound device, transforming a mundane reproducer of 2-D documents into a gorgeously expressive medium capable of capturing and representing not just 3 and 4 dimensions but the very essence of dreams themselves. How many of us suspected that this bulky, frustrating to operate and frankly dull exterior have disguised a machine with a soul that yearns to sing?

Touch – a perfect encapsulation of the physicality of her work - shows that sing it does in the service of Prins’ earthy, cornucopian imagination. Prins prefers the copier and scanner medium to photography. '[In photography], everything is reduced to a negative; you lose the sense of the real size of the subject. With life-scanning, all attention has to be focused on one body part, then you build up a fantasy image with these parts.' It's dreamy, it's erotic -- but fresh squid on a warm scanner or photocopier? 'Yes -- they stank!'. But mess and discomfort go with the medium. 'I see my work as 'nice torture.' It's hot, dirty work; I slosh water around and wrap things in plastic. Sometimes I have to make ten copies or scans before I get the right image; my [human] models are lying on their backs on a warm glass plate, twisting into strange positions. But it's also rewarding for us -- with anything hard, such as giving birth, one's love for the result is intensified.'

Belgian-born (1948) Lieve Prins completed the Academy of Fine Arts in Breda (Holland) and took courses on audio and visual communication at the Film Academie of Amsterdam. She is internationally considered as a pioneer in copy-scan- art, discovering the unexpected possibilities of copiers some twelve years ago "One day I saw my daughter's hand resting on a photocopier in a department store and -- bingo! I marched the kids down to the store with a pocket full of change and just plunked them down on the copier. I was immediately engrossed by the textures of clothes and skin that came out, and also I found something magical about the directness of the copier -- no negatives, no wait. 'Photocopiers and scanners are especially spontaneous, because of the specific need for speed in a contemporary machine. I find this reflects the rapidity of our age and culture. Also, the sense of direct contact with the subject is so special - I don't think business peaples realizes how beautiful its machine is. It provides a great opportunity to say what I want about things that are important to me: children, love, family life - everything that is absent from business and technology.' Her technical vocabulary, she points out, was discovered through understanding her mistakes in a direct, kinesthetic way. 'Unlike photography, where if you take a photo you must wait at least an hour for prints, you can correct your mistakes immediately. This action-reaction loop is addictive.'" - Lieve Prins