7 Comments

  1. I love the careful thinking and distinctions made here. I would also, however, point out that computer illustration, as an original work of art (as opposed to a picture of a painting, for example), is largely unexplored as a medium in the Orthodox iconographic world. It has been heavily explored by the art of the world, on the other hand. I think it might be high time for us to baptize that space as well…

    1. God’s presence is “transmitted” not in the intense heat of a plasma-cutter or the high pressures of a water-jet but in the act of breathing which “recalls” man’s first memory of the creative act (cf. Gen 2:7 and 1 Kings 19:11-12). Breath and soul (“np̄eš” and “nap̄šā”) are analagous in Aramaic. Super article.

  2. Fr. Silouan Justiniano

    Thank you very much for the great article Andrew!
    It succinctly clarifies and fills in a lot of blanks in the answer to this complex question.
    I’m glad you brought up the wood-cut technique and the printing press as not necessarily incompatible in the realm of sacred art. For a while now I’ve been thinking about icon wood-cut prints as a “middle ground” so to speak when it comes to the problem of icon reproductions. The wood-cut print, although reproducible in large quantities, does not try to duplicate other techniques. It acts on its inherent properties as a graphic medium. Pictorial properties that are not too foreign to the graphic, “abstract”, and linear qualities of the icon. If the wood-cut medium is handled with nuanced craftsmanship, I believe the beauty of its material properties can make of it a good substitute, over photo reproduction, for personal devotional use. It might not be the answer for communal liturgical use, but at least it buffers to some degree the overabundance of reproductions in the realm of personal piety. Perhaps, the icon wood-cut print is a venue to explore. I would appreciate your thoughts on this. Thanks again.

    Fr. Silouan

    1. I completely agree. As usual, the secular world has thought of this first. There is a huge revival in letterpress printing right now. There are dozens of print shops that use antique wooden type to make high-end greeting cards and wedding invitations. If the secular world now feels that important printed items should be lovingly hand-printed in this way, then why is the Orthodox world still printing icons on inkjet printers? Shame on us.

      I have for some time been thinking about letterpress or block printing of icons. It’s easy to imagine them for Orthodox greeting cards, but I’ve struggled with the question of how to present them for liturgical or devotional use. It will take some creative thinking.

      1. Julie Gould

        Graphic designer Valerie Wilson is already experiementing with icon-like letterpress cards. Unfortunately, she chose to do everything in metallic foil.

        By the way, I am not sure I like being called a load!

  3. […] arts (starting with fr. Silouan Justiniano’s article, my short post and Andrew Gould’s response), I thought I would attempt something I have been contemplating for quite some time now, that is […]

  4. Thank you for continuing this meaningful conversation. Godspeed in all your work!

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