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Visiting Artist in Residence

University of California Santa Cruz


Mapping Languages

Mapping Languages

At a time of collapsing specialization, when disciplinary studies slide, dissolving into one another revealing new knowledge
Eleanor Gates-Stuart is creating metaphoric landscapes mapping the markings of patterned language samples signing
one another. Eleanor Gates-Stuart digital prints illuminate, in variation, data delivered in layered transparent notation.

In the early sketches the first layer printed was the finger print establishing the beginning, recognizing our individual
presence, our observations of rivers of characters, numerical, text, blood, microscopic and aerial perspectives. As,
within our daily lives, layers of translucent information flow constantly, simultaneous delivery arriving continuously. The
fingerprint is a portrait and a graph of our life. Latter evolutions of the image build and suggest varied patterns of

ELEANOR GATES-STUART
thought and understanding.

Each day when I entered the digital studio Visiting Artist Eleanor Gates-Stuart was exploring a new series of marks,
and having tested them on paper, she sat transferring them to digital memory. The computer and digital technologies
was the perfect tool to suspend and imprint the interwoven conversations. While Eleanor’s final inkjet prints carry the
signature of years of art making, looking like a cross between print media and painting, they in fact could not have been

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created without the computer and associated programs stitching thin pixel layers into streams of information.

Examples of complexity in our lives are endless, particular to our own existence, continually related in our own stories
about our history and our experiences. While the details of our histories vary we share being human. Eleanor Gates-
Stuart creates panoramas that reflect the natural complexity of our lives and the languages we use to express ourselves.
She strives to commit seemingly specialized languages to the same page.
Professor Norman Locks, Chair of Arts

Finger Coding, by Eleanor Gates-Stuart, is a series of artworks with an implied focus on identity and pattern structures,
using fingerprint and data-world information.

Gates-Stuart’s work introduces text and visual references to data-mapping, making use of extensive research in print
and digital media. She creates a series of semi-abstract patterns she calls “finger coding,” using fingerprints as a base

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structure of images to which she adds numerical data, code, and her own watercolor drawings and sketches. In this
way she adds a symbolic overlay upon the basic identity represented by the fingerprint images to create a new identity,
text, or pattern.

The resulting prints, as the artist has explained, achieve a kind of aesthetic balance that unifies both systematic and
chaotic elements. They also show a fine sense of color and the harmony of serial images. One of the nice things about
her work is that she allows the beautiful, subtle marks of watercolor brush strokes to be incorporated into her prints,
human marks with the relatively cold digital techniques she uses. This action is really important.

While the fingerprints may be an individual expression of identity, the layering of personal drawings, images, and brush
marks creates her own very human identity code. Thus the usual roles are reversed, and, in Gates-Stuart’s work,
fingerprints become more an abstract element and the personal marks, drawings, brush strokes, and so on become
the true fingerprint.
Associate Professor Jimin Lee, Print Media

VISITING/BEING VISITED
Eleanor’s status and responsibilities as “Visiting Artist” in print media were multiple and layered: teaching students,
producing artwork, interacting with UCSC faculty and staff, and having her own experience of Santa Cruz, the campus,
and art community. That all of this had to happen in the compressed span of one academic quarter could be productively
Finger Codes is the title relating to the body of artwork produced by Eleanor Gates-Stuart as part of her artist catalytic or a potential muddle. The personal resources that she brought to the task—I’m thinking of her intellectual
residency at the University of California Santa Cruz. Using the finger print as a device for human identity, Gates- engagement and energy, her awareness of and interest in the students as individuals, her accessibility and enjoyment
Stuart merged numerous reference information meshed into multiple grids and layers as a new visual translation of of communication—seem to me to have tipped the experience toward the former.
complex systems and network existence.
Busy with my classes and spending hours in the print studio to experiment and explore my own projects, I frequently
Human fingerprints are translated into numerical symbols, coded through the artist’s drawings and used as encountered Eleanor there and, over the quarter, we managed to maintain an ongoing series of discussions and
symbolic data. Patterns that merge are also to be lost, woven and undone again, in layers adding complexity in the conversational exchanges centered on and generated by the complex nature of the place: teaching, learning, art ideas,
language of code and information architecture. The artist strives for simple representation, the artworks to appear technical processes, conceptual processes, and the ways in which all of these are involved with the broad activity of
non-technological and seemingly painterly, a result that belies the underlying infrastructure and composition of this making art. I appreciate the genuine engagement she showed in being a “Visitor” in the full social sense, participating
creative endeavour. energetically in the creative life of the studio and the department during her brief stay here. This dimension of the
exchange has hopefully started currents that will continue after she leaves.
Components
PROCESS
Seeing Eleanor in the studio several times each week gave me the opportunity to observe the variety of processes she
employed on the way to developing her ideas into their final embodiment as prints. In significant ways, it’s a privilege to
be able to see an artist’s work evolve and come together, because often our experience of a work of visual art is only

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in its completed form, which can have the misleading consequence of giving art the identity of a commodity product
rather than as a manifestation of a variety of kinds of thinking. By giving importance to chance, intuition, irrationality,
enjoyment and feeling, the ways in which the creative activity of visual thinking productively expands the category
of “thought” augments the possibilities of conceptual discourse beyond conventional expectations of rationality and
conventions of certain logical procedures.

Eleanor’s sense of the relationships among concepts and processes is evident through her use of materials and sources
and the many transformations, deconstructions, combinations, and recombinations that these undergo as she builds
the work. Some of the processes I noticed were manual drawing using both conventional and unconventional materials,

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scanning to digitize these, manipulation of digitized material in Photoshop through a broad range of transformative
possibilities offered by that tool, digital printing, creation of photo litho plates from hand-drawn sources, and multi-
plate lithographic color printing. She made extensive use of her opportunities to explore both our digital and traditional

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Number of related works - coded for reference material only. facilities in print media.

L A N G U A G E , C O D E S, A N D C O D I N G
The terms “language,” “codes,” and “coding” were central to Eleanor’s projects here, and they came up in every
conversation we had about her ongoing work. Her implementation of these concepts took a variety of forms, some of
Acknowledgements: which were readily visible, some wanted closer looking, and some were effectively hidden by process or the complexity
Special thanks for the support of the University of California Santa Cruz, staff and students in the Division of Arts. of their combination with other forms. Recognizing the traces of such hidden forms usually required the artist’s revelation
Mary Porter SESNON Art Gallery, Porter College, University of California of sources, which she readily shared; without this artist-supplied information, however, those visually disrupted forms
The Australian National University, Centre for the Public Awareness of Science. and associations essentially remained private, becoming a type of personal cryptographic coding. Among the kinds of
The Australian Science Festival coding she referenced are:
Brochure Design & Print: Eleanor Gates-Stuart, Moon Rinaldo & Iain Stuart
• fingerprints (identity, security, personal marking)
Printed @ UCSC. Support - Peter Harris • manual manipulation of materials (personal marking, traditions of painting/drawing)
• analog/digital relationships (mimesis produced by photography and scanning, illusionistic effects, digital image
References: structure, physical textures)
Cherry, J. Letter 2010
Woodward, R. Armchair Traveler, The New York Times, September 26, 2010
• texts (typefaces, handwriting): letters, words, sounds, meanings, language (frequently fragmented, these bits of texts
Gilbert, D. Magic by Numbers, The New York Times, Sunday Opinion, October 17, 2010 raise questions of context and legibility: as the original meanings of the text fragments become difficult to decipher, the
The New York Times, Book Review, Various Pages, October 3, 2010 possibility for subjective interpretation or association opens up)
• computer programming language
© Eleanor Gates-Stuart 2010 • structure as an organizational principle that can be visible or hidden (grids, circles, rows, patterns)
www.eleanorgatestuart.com.au
www.mediaesaurus.com.au
• layering and strata as an artifact of process to produce a kind of visual coding that elicits a different set of responses,
primarily aesthetic (shape, color, pattern, texture, detail, space)

There are undoubtedly others she could tell you about, but approaching the printed images in terms of coding practices
highlights aspects of various orders of presenting and reading information visually. Further thinking about this might
even lead to attempts to distinguish between “information” and “knowledge”.
Lecturer Richard Wohlfeiler, Print Media