Sam Winslow

Medium is the Message

Nov. 8, 2019

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Exploring the physicality of digital printing

or, How to Make a Mess

What signifies the end-of-life for a toner cartridge? Certainly not the manufacturer's instruction to replace it, as any thrifty and aggravated user knows. The wasted toner—once as valuable as gold dust—can be collected now like worthless soot.

What determines the proper way to use a toner cartridge? Like so many modern technologies, a printer is a literal black box, out of which usually comes exactly what we expect. One seeks out the most efficient printer, the one best suited to the technical demands of a job. The medium is only noticeable when it does not perform adequately. Beauty is only ever limited by the constraints of the technology.

What if an empty toner cartridge, that hunk of plastic, that minor office inconvenience, could become something transcendent?


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Digital media affect the physical world.

Familiar tools can always be used in new ways.

Appreciate beauty in everyday objects.