This Linoprint series took place at Goldsmiths University and was my first attempt at the method. The practice itself is messy and inexact, a welcome change from the clean, mathematical lines of vector design. The theme of the project was Rossum’s Robots — In my research for the linocut, I was struck by the underlying dystopian message within Karel Capek’s play, R.U.R. (2013) wherein “robots” function as slave laborers and ultimately rise up to kill their oppressors. My first visual instinct was that of a clenched fist, that traditional symbol of rage and resistance, done in the red and black style popularized by Soviet revolutionaries (Cushing, 2012). The traditional clenched fist varies from slightly rounded and semi-realistic to quite blocky and graphic. To distinguish my robot fist from that stylized fist which is already quite bold and square, I decided to add dimension by positioning the fist at a slight angle. This allowed me to give the thumb and pinky a more mechanical presentation.
I decided to show the fist straining against a metal cuff and chains, rising up out of darkness into rays of light. I struggled with the angle and the perspective but ultimately was able to approximate what I saw in my head. I hand-lettered a retro style blocky font reminiscent of Soviet propaganda posters, spelling out Rossum along the handcuff. For the second linocut, I continued with the theme of Soviet serfdom and replaced the iconic figure of the field worker with a square, robotic figure. I attempted a slightly more digital font to juxtapose the modern with the old, but I feel this was not executed as well as the other due to the inexactness of my cutting skills. True squares are difficult to achieve. The theme, however, was echoed across both pieces and joined the two ideas of ‘robot’ and ‘rebellion’ together in a way I felt did justice to Capek’s work.