΄Format΄ denotes a whole range of decisions that affect the look, feel, experience, and workings of a medium. It also names a set of rules according to which a technology can operate. [...] Format Theory invites us to ask after the changing formations of media, the contexts of their reception, the conjunctures that shaped their sensual characteristics, and the institutional politics in which they are enmeshed. [...] Because these kinds of codes aren’t publicly discussed or even apparent to end-users, they often take on a sheen of ontology when they are more precisely the product of contingency.
– Excerpts, Jonathan Sterne, MP3: The meaning of a format, Duke University Press, Durham, 2012, pp 1-31
This year the Werkplaats Typografie's contribution to the New York Art Book Fair begins with the display of an object that is an integral part of the offset printing process. This object is rarely seen by the public (and even the designer) because it doesn't need to be. It is an in-between object that hosts an uncompleted image – usually a recording from a digital file – towards its final destination as printed matter. This object is a Computer To Plate [CTP] printing plate. Each student of the Werkplaats Typografie will display a CTP plate produced by Drukkerij Raddraaier, a printing shop set up during the Amsterdam squatters movement in the late 70s. During the fair the students will explore and make use of the surroundings and resources of New York City to 'print' or 'realise' the content of their plate.
The idea of working with the CTP plate and the formats that inform its production are inspired by Jonathan Sterne's idea of 'Format Theory'. Here, the printing plate becomes an object of many of these considerations. Considerations that, at one time or another, have had bearing on many other objects or publications in this book fair itself. Not to mention the designing process in general. The CTP plate being 'in-between' the start and the finish of a standardised production process might also be compared to being in-between study and practice; a situation that is intentionally conflated at the Werkplaats Typografie.