Pen Plotter Symposium and Gallery

In November 2022, terraPen hosted a pen plotter symposium with leading artists and makers to discuss the state of computational drawing and plotting approaches. We had given 4 of the artists terraPen machines to play with for a few weeks before we invited them to discuss their experience and work in sunny Bournemouth. The participating artists were chosen as representatives boundary pushers within pen plotting to provide insights and introduce conversation around their practice and use of plotters. Pierre Paslier, Dan Catt, Andee Collard, Sam Winston and Jessica In took part.

On the agenda were the following research questions:

· How do we engage in the art process through technologically mediated tools?

· What kind of workflows emerge from the creation of new tools and then the use of such tools for creative purposes?

· What are the facilitators and barriers to utilising technologically based tools for art production?

· How do we use the computer as a tool for novel representations of data?

· What are the relationships between engineers and artists in the modern flux of technological advancements?

The symposium featured a focus group, a gallery exhibition, workshop day, and pecha kucha talks session and centered around eliciting data from five computational artists prevalent in the pen plotter field.

For the first day we spoke around the research questions. The findings are yet to be published but strong themes around: the implications of introducing machines into art; the relationships and mediations that occur in the process of art created in this manner; nuances of digital processes and material aesthetics; and what happens when computationally derived art collide with analogue processes and physical mark making materials emerged.

The second day saw print room action exploring traditional intaglio technique using scribes (sharp drawing tool) with the terraPen to engrave into metal sheets before inking and printing these via the large vintage printing press . Exploring the blend of technological and analogue processes to ‘push the initial digital nature of generative artworks even further into the physical world’ (Pierre Paslier – pen plotter artist).


As a finale the artists presented pecha kucha style (20 slides that change every 20 seconds for a 6-minute total) followed by a panel discussion chaired by the vice chancellor of Arts University Bournemouth (AUB) Professor Paul Gough. Each contributor presented their work and unique perspective on their approach to drawing and mark making. Unpacking their practice and outlining the wide range of medias and approaches to their work. The presentations were varied and in this short time provided an introduction to the world of computation and drawing approaches, and pen plotters more generally.

A round table discussion provided a space for further discussion to draw out some of the talking points in the presentations, and relating that back to contexts of young and emerging artists in this field.

The artists work was then exhibited alongside work from Ed and Mark (terraPen founders) for a month in the North Gallery at AUB with an opening ceremonial knees up!


A pop up exhibition of contributing artists work on display in the north gallery at AUB leading up to the symposium. 
terraPen pen plotters in action during the opening night 
Guests at the opening evening