Cut and Paste

Cut and Paste around 1900

Anke te Heesen

Cut and paste is a technique that still exists today. Its outstanding history started in the printing age and reached a highpoint towards the end of the nineteenth century that marked the center of this book project on newspaper clippings in art and science. Selective reading and cutting of newspapers was followed by selective collecting of articles.

The history of the newspaper reaches back to the early seventeenth century, but its apex came with the industrialized nineteenth century when it reached a broad public and developed into a new form of mass media. Internationalization and specialization of the content of the papers, as well as technical innovations and the acceleration of communications brought about by the telegraph and the expansion of railroads, were some of the catalysts for this enormous increase in access and production around 1900.

Beside its social and sociological implications and the institutional nascence of the clipping (in 1879 when the first clipping office was founded in Paris), Anke te Heesen's project focused on the clipping collections of scientists and artists and what they developed scientifically and artistically out of these printed paper slips.

In her comparative case studies—the physicist Ernst Gehrcke from Berlin, the Hamburgian Archive of World Economy, and the artist Kurt Schwitters in Hannover—te Heesen followed the paths of the paper-object through different, but contemporaneous areas. She addressed the question of art and science at stake here through four main motifs: series/reproduction, masses/collective, montage/collage, and fact/document. Bringing together the practices and tools of cutting and pasting on the one hand, and the motifs that are connected with these scientific and artistic collections and mountings on the other, it became evident that cutting and pasting is the epistemic and scientific virtue of the modern age.

 

 

  • Anke te Heesen: Der Zeitungsausschnitt. Ein Papierobjekt der Moderne. S. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2006.