As we were putting together the Ghost publication, I knew early on that I was interested in writing something about three-dimensional printing and the prosthetic. But when the essay was finally complete, I was at a bit of a loss for an accompanying visual. Initially, I accumulating tons of images from the web of various 3D printed limbs but the quality was so varied I couldn’t bring myself to clutter up the publication with them. So I started looking for something that might approach the notion of the phantom limb through a more metaphorical lens. The work of Richard Dupont came to mind.
Among other things, Dupont has been challenging representations of the human body with the tools of digital technology. For well over a decade, he’s been making figures that both approximate and distort. He uses three-dimensional scanning technology to output the human form, often as sculpture, but occasionally as works on paper. In 2007, he worked on series of etchings with Burnet Editions in NYC.
In a digital age, Dupont’s etching Phantom might be seen as a testament to the value of the human hand. It features an over-sized image of a hand reaching out, grasping beyond the frame. The piece merges a spectrum of technology from cutting edge scanners to one of the most antiquated print processes, intaglio. Despite the computer’s role in the process, ultimately a human hand, most likely that of master printer Greg Burnet’s, was still necessary to do the printing.
In a 2011 post called Fandom for Phantom for MoMA’s INSIDE/OUT blog, Alexander Fang discusses the Phantom etching. I grabbed the following picture from Fang’s post. It gives a sense of the piece’s scale…
A big thanks to Richard Dupont for allowing us to reproduce his image in Ghost!