FAX ART


The collection of artworks from the international artistic movement known as Fax Art at the International Museum of Electrography – Cuenca Center for Innovation in Art and New Technologies (MIDECIANT) is currently made up of more than 300 pieces. These were made and deliberately sent by artists from all over the world and were received and printed by the fax machines at MIDECIANT in Cuenca. Some were individual contributions/donations, while others were part of a larger fax art event organized by the center during the 1990s.

The works of fax art in the MIDECIANT collection are representative of creations made by the movement’s artists from the 1980s until the popularization of the internet and electronic systems of tele-transmission in the early 21st century. At that time, this earlier automatic and instantaneous system of tele-transmission and graphic reproduction became obsolete.

The fax machine as a product of the combination of telephonic and electrical signals, as well as xerographic and thermographic printing, has often been included within the field of artistic electrography, given that the images derived directly by a receiving fax machine cannot be distinguished syntactically from a conventional photocopy. Although the images were printed on thermal paper during the first technological phase of the fax machine, later they would transition to xerographic printing technology. For this reason, what makes the fax machine truly significant and sets it apart is the concept of telematic transmission. An image (or fairly flat object) is scanned and its tonal gradation is converted into an electrical signal. These are then translated in an organized fashion into audio signals, which the fax machine transmits to another device that is connected to the telephone system. When the second machine receives the signals, they are codified once again and then printed thanks to the xerographic printing process incorporated in the fax machine. The creative process that utilizes a fax machine introduces an element that is radically different conceptually speaking: the space-time relationship between the machine emitting the information on one end, and the machine receiving it on the other. This aspect can be manipulated by the artist as the information is being read out or transmitted.

This explains why the resulting images, already printed by the fax machines on the receiving end, tend to be associated historically with the international copy art movement. However, given the importance of the fax art collection at MIDECIANT in Cuenca, these artworks have been considered, classified and studied as a separate and independent set.