Those accustomed to the delectable servings of the itinerant online gallery Bubblebyte will know that curator Attilia Fattori Franchini is pretty streetwise when it comes to navigating the digital art landscape. But it seems the net wasn’t taut enough to hold in her new venture. Subsequently, a deceptively archaic splatter of sculpture, painting, print and video is to be found within bricks-and-mortar London gallery Paradise Row’s white grid. Focusing on The Instability of the Image, the exhibition presents a space to meditate on our exciting yet disorientating existence. You could say the exhibition doubles as a follow up to Ways of seeing by John Berger for the generation whose eyes are always on their iPhones.
Dazed Digital: The subject of the exhibition is so linked to the digital world – why did you choose to situate the conversation within the white cube, rather than Bubblebyte for example?
I wanted to look at how digital culture is, at the moment, influencing fine art practices. So how painters, sculptors and people who have for a long time been addressing certain types of visual enquiries suddenly get influenced by the velocity of images, the velocity of reproduction, dispersion and all these fragmentary modes of reproduction and transferring images. With each of these artists, their practice is informed in one way or another by digital images, so what I suddenly was looking at was how through the impact of digital culture, even people who are more distant to it change a way at looking at reality and representing it. That’s why the image becomes unstable because instead of being like linear representation, it suddenly crumbles apart, takes a different form and a different materiality through these different processes. So, I find it quite interesting how practices, until most probably a decade ago, were much more linear in there creation which has now become very fragmentary.
DD: Regarding that topic of linearity, do feel putting these artworks in a physical space is reintroducing a linearity that is perhaps lost in the digital world?
Absolutely not…the other way round! I think it’s actually in a way celebrating the fact that there is not, anymore, a uniform vision at all. We are so used to looking with our eyes and then taking pictures and then sending pictures. It’s not brand new content but its actually content re-appropriation of a constant flux of images that pass through us and that make us look at our own selves in a new form that is highly fragmented. Suddenly, what reality means varies depending on occasion; how this gets represented is so subjective, but these subjects for the artists are recurrent - they decided to experiment with technology but then return to physicality, its always like a very big transition. I’ve noticed through my practice and online how, at the beginning, we were looking a lot at existing in a primary form on the internet and then moving to a physical space … the translation is quite difficult. Still, it’s kind of like bringing the Internet to the physical space, but then you loose that context that is the Internet itself! So, at the moment, it’s about experimenting with the translation. What I wanted to look at from the other angle (from the fine art practice) is the space in between – what is in between the white cube and the Internet? How do artists address this ‘in-betweenness’ their own practice?
DD: How do you feel the digital world has impacted the image? Do you think it has empowered it? Or has its power lessened because of digital presence?
I do believe it has empowered our relationship with it: not the way we control it, but the way we use it. Now, the image becomes much more important - it becomes a vehicle for exchange, whereas before it was much more text based. So I definitely think there is a shift in our powers and a shift in power structures because suddenly people now have control over their own image, which can also be a certain type of branding on there own artistic practice. The artist becomes responsible over his own self, that’s why suddenly all the artists are so fascinated by how the show looks good on documentation because what remains on top of its physicality is what circulates after, that’s why the circulation of the image becomes a currency because the more it circulates, the more it’s seen – it creates the value of a certain work, a certain idea and a certain mode of expression. Clearly, the context has changed but its very interesting when the white cube tries to go close to the Internet.
DD: How are you going to go about archive this exhibition in terms of Image?
The first line of documentation will take place the day before opening by our in house photographer but in a week we will do the second round of documentation, and at that point we will put on our website the installation pictures. I always let the artists come and take their own pictures because it’s they’re own work - the documentation belongs to the artist as much as the work belongs to the artist. Hopefully it all goes well, if the works sell than that’s great. It’s quite exciting because through the basement programme, the gallery is exposing itself to a new audience – the usual audience of the gallery will actually get exposed to different types of artists –so its like two different parts are colliding, parts which may have not had the chance to meet.
DD: Its interesting how you talk about selling the image/work itself and then the ‘currency’ of the image – what do you think about the relationship between the money and the currency of ‘views’?
Well, Oliver Laric was talking about how the most expensive works of art in the world are actually the ones that have been reproduced the most. So, you can get a Van Gogh poster for 5 dollars but then its one of the most expensive original copies – so the value shifts in terms of reproducibility and how the circulation of image creates the value of a work. I was saying before, it depends on what circulates, which way it circulates and also controlling that circulation. That’s clearly something that all the artists take into account a lot recently and it’s quite important for them to be out there, taking full control of how their works are presented and how they circulate on the Internet because then they can create possibilities that even 25 years ago was not possible…having control over that becomes an extreme currency.
The Instability of the Image runs from 19 July – 12 September at Paradise Row, London. Featured artists include Sam Austen, Agnieszka Brzezanska, Ryan Foerster, Gabriel Hartley, Israel Lund, Marco Palmieri, Hannah Perry, Max Ruf