More work from 2010

Here are some other manipulated images in the series I posted about previously. I want to show how these images were realised in exhibition. They were not simply framed and hung on the wall, but became integral parts of a proliferation of other images. I wanted the heritage of all the images, be they drawn, photographed, found, inherited, to be slippery. I see these ‘walls’ of images as a bit like a Google image search – a kind of random collection without a known search term. It seems pretty clear to me that we have entered into an era where ‘sampling’ has become a dominant practice in art, unlike previous eras where appropriation was outside the norm, and therein lay its power. I take no credit for these ideas myself. I have been influenced by Kazys Varnelis who argues that we have moved on from the postmodern (in the Fredric Jameson sense) and have entered an era where ‘network culture’ is the dominant paradigm. I am pretty convinced by his ideas despite a cynicism around anyone who tries to coin the phrase that supersedes postmodernism.

I digress, images below:

Beckton Alps, 2010, digitally manipulated image, any dimension

Not Kansas, 2010, digitally manipulated image, any dimension

Jersey Rocks, 2010, digitally manipulated image, any dimension

Here you can see Jersey Rocks projected back into the projector box. The piece was called Platonic light or something but in retrospect I don’ think I’m ready to get involved in Greek philosophy.


Everything in this picture is from Ebay, except the image of the statue on the beach is from a photo I took of a maquette at the Musée Ingres in Montauban. I like this collision of ‘artefacts’ whose provenance spans hundreds of years and that they are at the same time illusory, as in the projected image, and tangible, as in the projector and box. What was very important in this piece, as in others, is the sense of looking in, an escape into and a longing for a miniature fantasy world.

History of Shit, 2010, tripod, pine disc, book, chicken bone, slide viewer

from aboveDetail from History of Shit.

This was virtually impossible to photograph well. I am sure someone else could do a better job. So again there’s this looking in, being dragged into an image. My aim is to encourage a kind of disembodiment of the viewer via this longing to look. Having said that this might only appeal to scopophiles of a very particular order. My original thoughts when making this piece were to do with the mass of stuff humans create (big subject there), stuff it into museums, circulate it on various levels of the economy of stuff, make it into rareified, expensive art. Clearly a play on Dominique Laporte’s book History of Shit (which appallingly I have still failed to read) this sculpture ‘remixes’ everyday detritus into a posh ornament. ‘Posh Ornament’ is the alternative title for this piece.

Holocene Arrangement #22, 2010, mixed media

Finally I would like to write about these what I call Holocene arrangements. The Holocene is the current geological epoch that started about 12,000 years ago, approximately concurrent with human civilisation or human technological culture. The Holocene is a subdivision of the Quaternary Period which spans (very) approximately 2.6 million years ago to the present. I like to think about modernism, post-modernism and our current cultural era, Varnelis’ network culture in terms of the Holocene and, even more mind bogglingly, the Quaternary period.  It renders our recent cultural human eras pretty insignificant. I suppose I am hoping to make some kind of critique here about the uselessness of making art, of discourse and of theory. It is not meant to be nihilistic. Perhaps the opposite, an attempt to find a love of something in the very insignificant now.

My father is a geologist and my early ‘art practice’ and visual education consisted of  colouring in maps and looking at slides of Zambian rock formations. There were very few family photos. These rock formations always included an instrument for scale, such as a biro, pick or ruler. There is something really exciting (can’t explain) about this intrusion of a banal 20th C item into this image of million year old rock. My father recently scanned all his slides, rendering the originals obsolete. So I have been able to work with these old slides and work them into my ‘mashup’ of images from film, tourism, urban archaeology, family history (see previous post on chicken shop as taxonomic device). I need to be careful here as I don’t want the autobiographical to become foremost in my work, but it is unavoidable to an extent.

One of my father’s slides from the 1960s.

One further point about the Holocene Arrangements is that they are also re-arrangements. They are not necessarily fixed in form and one item can appear in many arrangements for whichever purpose. Although not the Liam Gillick type of modular sculpture at all, hopefully more ‘pieced’ like Mark Dion or Rachel Harrison.

Holocene Arrangement #25, 2010, mixed media

Holocene Arrangement #20, 2010, mixed media

Holocene Arrangement #19, 2010, mixed media

I would like to do more pixel drawings.

Early Holocene Arrangement (about #6 or so)

Also kind of in this series are some ‘involuntary arrangements’. I suppose this is a critique and a celebration of just being able to make whatever on earth one wants, whenever one wants. This was inspired by Ben Nicholson:

Involuntary Composition #1, 2010, pine plank, plastic sheeting, wine glass, red stained white spirit.

Ben Nicholson, Red and Silver, 1955, oil on canvas, 30 x 26-3/4 inches

Involuntary Composition #2, 2010, plinth, woodchip wallpaper, magnolia paint, four way plug.

This is probably the most banal and minimal thing I have made. I was thinking a lot about drawing and composition and in a way this is my 3d version of that.

About sophiebbarr

I am an artist and a teacher in higher education. For me art is a re-organisation of stuff that's already in the world.
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