Printing Ochre
Read the Full Article


mineral origins

How to Cite

Tsoutsounakis, E. (2024). Printing Ochre: A research Practice in Mapping Colour. IMPACT Printmaking Journal, 3, 10.


The discipline of geology was relatively new at the start of the United States Geological Survey (USGS) in the late 1800s, but through the organisation of an efficient government bureau and the voice of its printed page, it became a dominant perspective in the way generations of citizens relate to and view the natural world, human and nonhuman, life and nonlife. I choose to position my press in direct opposition to the maintenance of these dualisms.

I will argue the critical role of print in facilitating USGS domination of terrestrial beings in a practical sense, yet beyond the methods and reach of publication, I believe the products of the USGS mediate our understanding of and relation to these beings. Instead, design practices can be directed towards changing attitudes and understanding between humans and nonhumans. Monika Bakke argues for the importance of artistic endeavours in addressing our collective futurity:

Drawing on both life’s mineral origins and its key role in shaping mineral species, artists are turning to technoscience in order to develop, outside expert circles, better understanding of physical, chemical, and biological environments, not just of the geological past but also those to come in the future. ... Yet, their methodologies are specific to art which offers creative ontological and ethical contributions to public debate. (2017, p. 43)

I am developing a design research paradigm relating to ochre as an epistemic tool for human and nonhuman intersubjectivity and ontological reconciliation or reunification between life and nonlife. I model my practice after a simplification of the USGS: to survey (observe, describe, collect) and to report (archive, document, record), with some critical variance in method and outcomes.
Read the Full Article


Barad, K. (2012) What is the Measure of Nothingness? Infinity, Virtuality, Justice. Germany: Hatje Cantz.

Deleuze, G. and Guattari, F. (1987) A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Minneapolis MN: University of Minnesota Press.

Gustafson, H. (2022) ‘Heidi Gustafson Recounts How She Established an Archive of Hundreds of Samples of Humanity’s Oldest Art Material.’ Interviewed by Grace Ebert. Colossal. 7th June. Available at: interviews/heidi-gustafson/ (accessed: 14 June 2022)

Harrison, J. L. (2010) 100 GPO Years 1861-1961 A history of United States Public Printing. U.S. Government Printing Office: Washington D.C.

Jaussaud, Renee M. (1999 ) Inventory of the records of the United States Geological Survey, Record Group 57 in the National Archives, United States Geological Survey and National Archives and Records Administration.

Manning, T.G. (2014) Government in science: the US Geological Survey, 1867– 1894. Kentucky: University of Kentucky Press.

Povinelli, E. (2016) Geontologies: A Requiem to Late Liberalism. Durham and London: Duke University Press.

Plumwood, V. (1993) Feminism and the Mastery of Nature. Routledge: London and New York.

Rabbitt, Mary C. (1989) The United States Geological Survey, 1879-1989. (U.S. Geological Survey circular; 1050) Government Printing Office: Washington D.C.

The Organic Act of the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Statutes at Large, v. 20, p. 394

USGS Bulletin No. 227. The United States Geological Survey its Origin, Development, Organization and Operations. (1904) Government Printing Office: Washington D.C.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Copyright (c) 2024 Elpitha Tsoutsounakis


Download data is not yet available.