Paul Catanese, Hybrid Media Artist

Handmade Media
2009 – present | Experiments combining Handmade Paper and Electronic Media

My colleague, Mel Potter and I have been collaborating on a Faculty Research Grant from Columbia College Chicago this semester entitled Handmade Media. This grant expands a line of research that we conducted initial tests for in late 2009 / early 2010. As outlined in our grant proposal: “...while some experiments combining electronic media with the field of hand papermaking have taken place, such building speakers and embedding microphones... it largely remains an uncharted territory, as facilities that can accommodate creative inquiry with both of these materials are rare. At Columbia College Chicago, the Interdisciplinary Arts Department, with both a papermaking studio at its Center for Book and Paper Arts as well as an electronics laboratory, provides a unique opportunity to explore the intersection of these media, highlighting technology, conceptual development and artistic experimentation.

Special thanks to Interdisciplinary Arts Graduate Students Alex Borgen, Morgan Sayers, Jillian Bruschera, Grayson Bagwell, Michelle Graves and Kaitlin Kostus - who each have provided assistance specific to this project at the various stages throughout the project.

[In 2009/10, we] launched this collaboration to explore the question of whether electronic components could be ’included’ or incorporated into the very fiber of handmade paper without destroying their functionality. Since this would involve the electronic components first being embedded in wet pulp, then submitted to over 6000 PSI of pressure from a papermaking press – the outcomes were uncertain. Through the initial research, [we] learned that a number of different types of components are quite well suited to this interdisciplinary process. What emerged were a series of prototypes and processes that they are now prepared to use in the creation of more advanced and conceptually rich artworks – and which advance the emergence of a new hybrid art material – Handmade Media.” Below are images from our ongoing research through end of 2013; as we continue to build prototypes this page will be updated.

Above Left: One of five 30x30" Handmade Media artworks created as part of my visible from space project taken during month-long exhibition at the Instituto Cultural de Mexico in San Antonio as part of the 2013 Luminaria Festival. Photo courtesy Michelle Graves.
Above Right: A prototype handmade paper speaker implementing a three planar handmade voice-coils wired in series, and sheathed in beeswax before being laminated between two ultra-thin sheets of pigmented abaca - initial designs inspired by Hannah Perner-Wilson's Kit of No Parts research. Currently, we're finishing an eight-channel and a ten-channel sheet of paper. See below for in-progress images.

2012 and earlier tests including el-panel inclusions and conductive pulp.