Wade Guyton, Untitled, 2008. Epson UltraChrome inkjet on linen: 84 × 587 × 1 1/2 in. (213.4 × 1491 × 3.8 cm) overall. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from the Painting and Sculpture Committee, the Director’s Discretionary Fund, Allison and Warren B. Kanders, Andrew and Christine Hall, Donna Rosen, Pamella DeVos, Melva Bucksbaum and Raymond J. Learsy, Ginevra Caltagirone, Miyoung Lee, and Gregory Miller 2011.22a-h
Photograph by Lamay Photo
Wade Guyton makes paintings, but he does not use paint! Instead, he works with digital technologies, such as the computer, scanner, and printer. For this painting, Guyton used his computer and the drawing tool in Microsoft Word software to create the black bars. Then he used a large inkjet printer to print that digital image onto eight linen canvas panels.
His printer is designed to print on paper, not on wide pieces of canvas, so each piece of canvas has to be folded in half to fit through the printer. When one side is printed, Guyton turns the canvas over and prints the same image on the other side. At its full scale, after going through the printer sixteen times, this artwork has been transformed from an image on a small computer screen to an enormous painting that is almost 49 feet wide and 7 feet high!
All kinds of unplanned glitches can happen as these paintings are made: an image changes in size and resolution as it travels from computer screen to printer to canvas, the printer pulls the canvas in unevenly, or ink nozzles clog when the canvas moves through the printer. The artist likes these “beautiful accidents” and considers them to be an important part of his work. Guyton is not afraid to make mistakes, because they can lead to interesting and creative results. In this painting, the wobbly bars and the jittery white lines created in the printing process form a visual rhythm of their own, like music or poetry.