HD video, 5.1 audio, 16 minutes, 2013
We Are Printers Too is a large-scale high-definition video set in the former Age newspaper headquarters in Melbourne. Speculative and archaeological, the work emerges from this vacant, purpose-built building that once produced the daily news, from its pre-digital technologies and lost modes of communication.
It begins with a lone drummer walking through the abandoned spaces beating rhythmic codes on her drum, evoking announcements and early forms of long-distance communication. Other percussionists inexplicably appear among the silent machines, multiplying the messages, and deaf-blind people ‘talk’ in sign language about the act of communicating.
Exploring the material and sonic by-products of communication, Leber and Chesworth punctuate the work with typesetting, telex, relay mechanisms of a pre-digital telephone exchange, morse code and the sound of a voice struggling to speak.
The Documentary Take, CCP Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne (2016), Melbourne Now, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (2013-14), Gold Coast Art Prize, Gold Coast City Gallery (winner, 2014), Screengrab6 International Media Arts Award (winner, 2014) and Melbourne Art Fair video program (2014). A parallel exhibition of photographs from We Are Printers Too was exhibited at Fehily Contemporary, Melbourne (2014). National Gallery of Victoria collection and Gold Coast Arts Centre collection.
Performers: Leah Scholes, Zela Papageorgiou, Matthew Horsley, Alice Hui-Sheng Chang, Sven Topp and Dennis Witcombe.
Our thanks to Travis Hodgson, Gary Warner, Lisa Fehily, Industry Super Property Trust for providing generous support, Knight Frank, Michael Isaacson, Melbourne Museum of Printing, Telstra Museum in Hawthorn, John Riddett and the Morsecodians.
'Communications technology shapes our world but the artists’ video of an abandoned newspaper building shows how far and fast technology moves; yesterday’s high-tech is today’s junk. In trashed offices and workshops, the artists discover all manner of redundant communication technologies: rotary dial telephones, Morse code devices, Linotype machines, ticker tapes. They show that the urgency of communication has shaped innovation, economics and social experience for almost two centuries. I was struck by the artists’ eye for detail; there isn’t a scene in which there isn’t a label, a sign or a meter … a reminder that, even before internet mobile phones, our entire environment was flooded with communications. In the end, the work isn’t just an elegy for the printing press; it’s a reminder that communication is our life blood.'
- Dr Chris McAuliffe, Judge of 2014 Gold Coast Art Prize