Motor Oil Art
The motor oil prints I make are a form of monoprinting. I
originally learned how to make a monoprint from Nathan Oliveira.
Another teacher, Allan Kaprow, taught me to find value indiscarded
things. My response to their two teachings was a third way
I call motor oils or motography.
|The artist at
the 1997 Rat Fink Reunion, Santa Fe Springs, California.Photo
by Michael Farr.
In motography, the image is painted onto a surface using recycled
motor oil and then one copy can be transferred or recorded onto
paper by imprinting.
As a medium for creating images, motor oil works best in its recycled
state. It's purity has been infiltrated by the presence of sludge
and deposits from an engine. This means darker pigment and higher
The degrees of flowability and saturation in recycled motor oil
make for some surprising effects. If the level of saturation is
high, the oil flows out into the paper fibres along with the abundant
particulates it contains, resulting in a soft golden halo that expands
Applying the motor oil with low saturation works best to bring
out the texture of the paper it is printed on. Thick absorbent paper
The transformation of motor oil from raw material to consumer product
to post-consumer industrial-waste product to motographic print can
be expressed in the following equation where M refers to the words
"motor oil". The power of 2 refers to the process of recycling,
as when you take old disgarded resources and put them into a feedback
system where it's power becomes greater than sum of its parts.