In 1996, David Krut discussed with Kentridge the making of a CD-ROM about the scope of his work, which could also contain a catalogue raisonné of the editioned work that Kentridge had created up until that point. Although at the time Kentridge was rather confounded by the idea, he agreed to participate in providing a lot of his material for scanning as well as spend time in a sound recording studio talking about the range of activities in which he was creating work, from film, to drawing and print, to larger scale endeavours, such as opera.
A decision was made to also release a deluxe edition of the CD-ROM and so, toward this end, during a visit to 107 Workshop in Wiltshire, working with Master Printer Jack Shirreff, Kentridge offered to create images that could be torn down to the size of the jewel case containing the CD-ROM. This pursuit resulted in three prints that show a nude figure representing the artist sitting, bending and standing. The title of the series refers to the HMV (His Master’s Voice) record company logo, which depicts a dog talking into a megaphone – echoed in Untitled (Artist Sitting), which features the seated artist talking into a megaphone. In the other two prints, Untitled (Artist Standing) and Untitled (Artist Bending), the representation of the artist is brought to life by a pared-down use of a drypoint line, which depicts “the artist grasping the line in his hand like a stick [and] the same figure reaching for the line that hovers in the air like a second horizon as he draws it” (Kate McCrickard from “I Am The Bird Catcher”, p135 in William Kentridge Flute, edited by Bronwyn Law-Viljoen and published by David Krut Publishing, 2007).
Both Untitled (Artist Standing) and Untitled (Artist Bending) feature the figure as a central motif, and could therefore be torn down to fit the CD-ROM case. These were published in an edition of 50 to be included with the CD-ROM deluxe edition, which was released alongside the standard edition in January 1997. Having seen the whole plate, as well as the third image of the artist sitting, which was originated on an irregularly shaped copper plate, Krut suggested that they also be published as editions with the entirety of the plate as they were such wonderful images in totality. These three works constitute the HMV series.
In forming the figures in these images, Kentridge used his thumb prints to create contours of the body on a copper plate prepared with softground. Having been captivated by Kentridge’s use of his thumbprint to suggest flesh, Krut suggested he employ a similar technique on a larger scale, which resulted in the Sleeper series on large copper plates measuring 1 x 2m, also produced together with Master Printer Jack Shirreff.
– Text by Jacqueline Flint
To listen to sound clips from the William Kentridge CD-ROM, click here.