Post 753 -by Gautam Shah
Copying is a natural phenomenon, where we pick up some impressions of sensorial nature, such as visual, aural, smell, taste, touch etc. Copying may be an instinctive act. It occurs as some form of behavioural expression. When a child begins to understand that certain actions, responses, sounds from the environment, if emulated, triggers some actions. It becomes a language of action-reaction.
The sensorial effects have two fundamental scales, temporal and spatial. For example, Hearing is structured with beats (marking-representing the passage of time) defining the temporal scale. Similarly Seeing is structured with traces, which help to understand the spatial scale. Artists, Crafts-persons and Designers cannot survive without copying and tracing. In both the cases, the sequence of origination and affectations, however, often gets disarrayed.
We perceive many things and wish to remember them. The retained image can only copy the effects close to the original. To retain a visual impression, it should carry some potential for recollection and production. Here one, needs transfer protocol. Same way, we can remember smells, tastes and tactile feelings. These are even more difficult to structure and retain, so we associate such experiences with their conditions of origin or encounters and with reference to time, space, and the environment.
There are broadly two ways of copying. These are either contagious or noncontagious. The former, is used for objects that are touchable or accessible, whereas the later, is used for very large or small things.
Contagious copying was made from flatter forms like shallow carvings, metals engravings, fabric designs, etc. The method only copied the selective forms, from the images like the pattern, structure, etc. Contagious copies are exact scaled replicas. These are sometimes formed by bridging randomly marked (real or imaginary) points to generate a skeleton frame.
Noncontagious formations occur from what we retain as remembrances (from an exclusive observation or accumulation of multiple experiences over period). These are collections of points or linear strokes, retained over graph, grid or reference motifs. Non contagious images are drawn-images that are often impressionistic, and in the form of facsimile or surrogate forms.
In visual arts, copying the works of the masters has been a standard way for students to learn to paint or sculpt. Copying of three-dimensional works (models) in easy-to-use materials like clay or wax was a primary method. Such models or 3D renderings (perspectives) were also used for scaling, on site-positioning, visual confirmation, and for duplication. Such images were used for visual confirmation (presentations) of the donors or sponsors for the proposed buildings, sculptures, artefacts, murals or stained glass compositions.
Forms copied through contagious and noncontagious routes are distinctly different. Contagious duplication is more elaborate but accurate, Noncontagious imaging matures after multiple attempts. It though, allows upward or downward scaling. A noncontagious image is done instantly, or if, remembered, must be immediately transferred to some media, sketch, model or narrative. There is some inevitable generative deterioration of details, interference of ‘noise’ and personal interpretation. But, when noncontagious images are collated through several individual experiences, at different occasions and locations, a reasonably acceptable image emerges. The process of improvisation must occur continuously to prevent deterioration or ‘cultural’ improvisations, which accumulates with each generation.
Non contagious deduction through the impressionistic mode also result into doodles. Doodles are too personal and frugal, so are meaningful to the authors. Others have to wait till something concrete emerges out of it, such as a model, set, building, art composition, a strategy or film. Doodles can provide the cues about thinking of the author. On a performance stage the cues are discreet indications or prompts for reminders like, specific sounds, beat or mime acts and gestural expressions.
Copying was once done through pin hole boxes and camera obscura. Unlike sketching, the early image capturing devices substantially truthfully captured the colour and texture, shades and shadows. Such images were only reversed (upside down) views, smaller in scale, but needed some storage system. For Scenes with depth (perspectives) were renditions over the graticulate frame. It was a square marked frame to facilitate the proportionate enlargement or reduction of the image. Portrait drawings were prepared from the silhouette as captured on the glass board (19th C). With digital imaging, the copying is ‘nearly’ scalable. Upward-downward conversions are carried out with the aid of the tracing instrument called the pantograph. With each ‘new generation of technologies’, the older copies seem ‘out of date’. Frequently copying from the copies, the deterioration accumulates with each process.
Teachers teach by writing on the board, speaking up and by actions (gestural-postural), asking students to take a note of it. The note-taking, is copying the lesson. Dance teachers ask students to follow a regimen of steps accompanied with beats. The dance steps and the sound of beats, ultimately get transferred to production with music and positions on the performance stage. These are copying processes in parts that ultimately form complex image.
Squaring up, is a simple technique of dividing an image into the grid, which allows easy and accurate copying (at the same, reduced or enlarged scale) of the image. The same method was used to transfer small size sketches onto canvas or wall murals. To perceive a visual image, lines and grids, have been used for ages. Such implants, as a superlative pattern establish mutual relationships and distance. Early images of constellations, territorial forms, caricatures, facial expressions, etc. are such captures. Squaring for transfer technique did not damage to the original sketch.
Tracing has a basic purpose of duplicating and imprinting an image. Tracing is a tool for reproduction of an expression. The image needs to be ready on some media (opaque, transparent or translucent). The image gets transferred (transfer print). During tracing, one has a choice to manipulate the image. It is a quick rendition that carries only the essential or the sketchy impression, and so minimal. The reproduction is also a manner of interpretation and improvisation.
Tracing was used for copying drawings, signatures, writings and maps, and often for reproducing them. It was a tedious and inaccurate way of copying. Only larger details could be accurately traced. During tracing, the craft masters often improvised few of the details.
Tracings have limitations, as can be delivered mostly in visual or aural transference. In tactile tracing visually impaired persons sense the surface through their hand, feet or walking stick. This, of course, is reinforced by the spatial acoustics. Smell traces can lure or scare (smell of tiger urine) the animals.
The copied images have a characteristic axial setting and so changing the original is not easy, but traced imprints make it possible. Copied images are traced by maintaining the original, varying the axial setting, purpose, in part or whole or in repeated formats. The tracing, if on transparent or translucent media also allow manipulation through mirroring in horizontal, vertical or inclined directions.
Tracing retains something of the original characteristics like scale, proportions, etc. But, may intentionally miss out many things like, finer details, colour and texture. Tracing is a selective follow-up of the image. It picks up important switches in any configuration, like ends, edges, junctions, angles or cross overs of lines-plane and marked interchanges in the contours. Tracing may select specific colour zones and create colour separated versions (multi coloured printing overlays). Tracings, if part of a larger composition, are marked with indicators to establish the continuity and orientation connections.
Tracing requires running a pencil, stylus, pointer or pricking wheel (a pouncing wheel is called a tracing wheel) over the lines or dots of the image. Pouncing has been a common technique for centuries for oil paintings, engravings, murals etc. Tracing is by impact impression or pricking holes in the media. A powder such as chalk, graphite or pastel is forced through the holes, to leave an outline on the working surface below. Tracing images over the fresh lime Plaster for Fresco painting of very large mural surfaces, was fairly common. The image outlines were macro zones filled with colours by apprentices and details overdrawn by the master painter. Tracing as a shadow or silhouette capturing, were done for portrait drawing. Similarly, star constellations were remembered by endowing a superfluous image.
Tracing is nominally used to copy an image for imprinting it, at some other place in a different reference, in original or varied axial settings, purposes, part or whole and repeats. In case of sculptures, copies have often been made using devices such as the pointing machine, the pantograph or 3D cameras or a computer guided router systems that can scan to generate a model through 3D printing.
A scrivener or scribe (often called a copy master) was a person, who could read, write letters to court and compose legal documents. These people often translated and also improvised the content to please their masters.
A mimeograph machine (often abbreviated to mimeo, or a stencil duplicator) was a low-cost duplicating machine that works by forcing ink through a stencil onto paper. Mimeographs, along with spirit duplicators and hectographs, were common technologies for printing small quantities of documents. From 1960s, the photocopying gradually displaced all duplicating machines and technologies.
Cartoons are full scale or part size sketches made on metal, parchment, fabric or paper. These were used to transfer an entire image, or parts of it for multiple duplication. These were pricked with pin-holes for imprinting a copy for mural fresco, wood boards or canvas. The Cartoons (from the Italian word for a large sheet of medium material), were also test replicas for checking on-site suitability, composition format, details of figures and other embellishments. Cartoons (since 1500s) were used for approval of donors.
The cartoons had restrictions, as it was not possible to create as large as the intended artwork, so select important elements such as body postures, faces, dresses, architectonic elements, decorative features and motifs for embellishments, etc. were prepared. These encouraged rearrangement, repositioning, or mirroring of the content. Cartoons also allowed placing of the figures on plain and curved surfaces (like ceilings). But with cartoons it was not possible to enlarge or reduce the scale. Cartoons did not offer the colour shade scheme (unless the original artist has indicated by naming or patch). Usually the dress, ornament, skin colour and illumination-shading were decided later on.
The cartoon mediums (parchment, paper, silk and other translucent fabrics) were fairly fragile, deformed through stretching and frequent pin hole punctures, so had to be carefully maintained. The Cartoons were precious possessions of the artist, and were well secured to prevent misuse or thefts. But many such pieces, after the execution of the painting, were rented or sold off to others for reuse at other sites. Cartoons were called Khaka (Urdu). Disney studio, in the pre computer age used a set of cartoons for facial features and backgrounds. Cartoons could be repeated at different positions within a composition, on curved surfaces, or inclined surfaces such as over the arches and ceilings.
A trail is a series of marks left by a person, animal, or any thing in action. Many of the GPS systems trace trails of movements (through multiple satellite images or recognition by multiple mobile towers). Trails form an image or reflection by combining a series of impressions or recognise a sensible geometric pattern out of random data. Animals trace smell or heat as a trail. A meander, derives from ‘turning path of the River Maeander, in Asia Minor’ or ‘the meander is the figure of a labyrinth in linear form’. Scrolling is design structured over spirals, rolling incomplete circle motifs, but incorporating copied images. Terms such as, the interlacing or arabesque, are used for such linear use of repeated images. Computer Mouse allows trailing and selection.