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Dan O'Neill: Black Bread Eater-White Bread Eater
Black Bread Eater – White Bread Eater 2004
Dan O’Neill studied painting, drawing and printmaking at the Ontario College of Art and Design, graduating with honours in 1993. He earned a BFA (1994) and an MFA in Media Arts (1999) from NSCAD University, where he is presently an instructor.
O’Neill came to printmaking after working as a graphic designer and illustrator from 1974 to 1989. Thus his creative habits of foraging for readymade images, and collaging them using reprographic techniques, has proved generative for his printmaking. For example, in addition to exposing film positives derived from printouts of digital image files onto positive-working aluminum photo plates, O’Neill also transfers photo-copied images (such as the rose blossom and children’s drawings distributed over his JPEG compositions) using oil of wintergreen to release the toner from the paper onto the lithographic stone. JPEGNOTES: BYHD.01.COPY.JPEG is composed of twelve colours printed in twelve press runs progressing from light-coloured transparent inks to dark or opaque ones.
In his work, O’Neill calls heteronormativity into question. His intricately collaged compositions foreground the paradox of adolescent bodies which are both surrounded by prohibitions and fetishized as erotic emblems. JPEGNOTES is an ongoing series of work incorporating downloaded internet erotica, which cannot help but comment on the panicked debates over the artistic representations of the sexual child. Several of this suite were exhibited in the major solo exhibition Viewer Discretion/Dan O’Neill (Saint Mary’s University Art Gallery, 2004). With their insistent display of adolescent male bodies, O’Neill’s prints set up an ironic counterpoint to the exhibition’s title.
These complex lithographs display the sophistication of O’Neill’s approach to the editionable image. Lifted from the Internet, decomposed into its CMYK screens and then partially recomposed in altered colours, the ghost-like motifs in JPEGNOTES and the other collage-based lithographs trace the evolution of imaging technologies from hand-pulled graphics through photo-mechanical (analogue) to digital processes of reproduction.
IJ and JDH