Publish or Perish started simply enough as a series of drawings investigating an amazing piece of machinery that I have marveled over since I was little. A contraption most of us have never seen. A contraption all of us have reaped benefits from. The web press.

My father owns a small hometown newspaper, The Johnson’s County Gazette. When I was young, I would regularly go with him to the press facilities and watch the various editions roll off the presses. I was amazed that my dad understood and utilized a piece of equipment so intricate and complicated. I would watch the press for hours. It might have been the first time I remember sitting down and seriously looking at an object to figure out how it was built. I analyzed every rivet and bolt. Everything was there for a reason.

A web press is the type of press that a newspaper or a magazine is printed on. It has all those rollers and ink trays. The paper is woven back and forth like a web, until a multi-page, folded document is ultimately spit out. I enjoy being able to watch that entire process from a roll of paper on one end, to a printed, folded and bound document on the other. The web press consumes and transforms, picking up more imagery and information along the way. Much like life.

A 2008 recipient of the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, Kiel Johnson received his BFA from the University of Kansas before earning his MFA at Calfornia State University, Long Beach. He has exhibited in venues throughout the United States, including the Architecture and Design Museum of Los Angeles. Johnson will be featured in PULSE Miami Contemporary Art Fair this December with Davidson Contemporary (NY), with whom he will also exhibit in fall 2010. His current show, Publish or Perish, is currently on view at Mark Moore Gallery.

Watch a time-lapse video of the creation of Kiel Johnson’s “Twin Lens Reflex” by Theo Jemison.

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