Redundant Technology Initiative presents
"A hard disk costs £1000 minimum, but holds at least three million bytes - three megabytes (Mb). An intoxicating thought!"
- Platt (1)
An exhibition of new art featuring works by
Stephen Cornell & Karl Christian Geleff, Tony Kemplen, Paul Matosic & John Denaro, Simon Norris and James Wallbank.
Plus "Falling Down", a performance & installation by
Heather Burton, Deveril Garraghan, Tim Hall, Alexander Kelly, Jamie Iddon, James Wallbank and Rachael Walton, with soundtrack by John Avery.
1. Charles Platt with David Langford - Micromania - Sphere Books, 1984.
SIZE MATTERS CATALOGUE
RECOGNITION AND REINVENTION
"The past is hidden somewhere outside the realm, beyond the reach of intellect, in some material object (in the sensation that material object will give us) which we do not suspect."
- Proust (2)
Knowledge, once gained, cannot be lost and objects do not cease to exist purely because they appear to have outlived their use. The collecting of discarded objects is not in itself novel, nor is it an occupation which belongs exclusively to the world of art. Surrounded by experiences and bombarded with information on all sides, we all acquire a body of knowledge and things, tangible and intangible, which we store away. Within art practice however, a process of recognition takes place whereby the assimilation of ideas, experiences and objects are filtered through the working process and emerge with new possibilities. At times the object is purely the vehicle for ideas but at others it is the object itself which contains and holds traces of thought. Whatever else happens, the recognised meaning within an object itself is taken up and altered.
The act of discovery is one of recognition. The identification of something vaguely familiar, whether this be an observed gesture, a fragment of overheard conversation, or a redundant object whose use has been superceded, is an experience common to all. But it is not merely recognition but the act of dissection which removes the original context and creates the potential for new readings and association. In isolation the unitary meaning becomes separated and allows for new voices to begin to be heard, as though the separate parts were placed under a microscope to reveal surprising underlying structures. The act of singling out a part of the whole, whether it be word, image or object, inevitably distorts our understanding as it challenges our assumed knowledge, sometimes inverting the original meaning and becoming a disturbing re-interpretation of what we believed we knew.
If we then take those selected ideas or things within their isolation and reassemble them as a new whole, what interpretations and readings then become possible? Do these fragments make a complete image? And what becomes of the omissions, the pieces which are not selected? What we may come to realise is that it is the very pieces which we absent - the discarded, the unnoticed - which then speak the loudest. Their absence is essential in order to make sense of what is present.
The re-presenting of often overlooked and overfamiliar objects in a fresh context causes us to question our presumed certainties. Objects become vehicles for further ideas rather than solely an end in themselves. They can be moved, dismantled, re-arranged, added to, reduced in order to alter meaning so that they are no longer a single, static thing but a constantly changing, developing entity which can move through space and time.
So an object which originally existed to perform a particular function becomes invested with aspirations and memories, taking on a life of its own and opening up the possibility of becoming a site for ideas where a dialogue can take place. The discarding of an object or an idea because it no longer fits with current thinking does not mean that it disappears but it can become the means by which our preconceived certainties are challenged and disrupted.
2. Marcel Proust - Remembrance of Things Past: Swann's Way (translated C.R. Scott) - Moncriem Vintage Books, 1970.
STATEMENTS FROM THE ARTISTS
Paul: "I use absolutely all the materials and components that make up the machines I deconstruct; not a screw or grommet is omitted. I disassemble a machine as if I were in the process of repair, nothing is broken during the breakdown. As in a biological dissection each component is carefully examined before any attempt is made to remove it. Once the machine is dismantled individual units are then further deconstructed. I stop the process once I reach a point where further deconstruction would be irreversible. These guide lines are frequently changed to allow the final assemblage to look right."
Paul Matosic & John Denaro
John: "I'm fascinated by the instantaneous accessibility of the photocopy. In this installation we've created a feedback loop in which my photocopies depict the (dis)assemblage, while the mirrored surfaces on which the components are laid reflect images of the components themselves."
Components Found in a Photocopier:
Grey steel, Felt, Silver steel, Glass, Black steel, Mirrors, Brown steel, Clear plastic sheet, Grey brown plastic , Black plastic sheet, Khaki plastic, Motors, Orange plastic, Black rubber, Electric cable (multi coloured), White rubber, Green circuit board, Toner, Brown circuit board, Oil.
Paul Matosic is an artist based in Nottingham. He has shown widely and is a founder member of the Strata arts group. He'd like to thank CODA Nottingham for their support.
John Denaro has collaborated with Paul on this installation as part of an ongoing photocopy project. He is an artist and musician who works with assemblage, collage and portraiture.
A STATEMENT FROM THE ARTIST
For the Size Matters show I've produced a pair of pieces that build on and expand the series of computer generated artworks that have formed the major part of my practice over the last two years.
The images engage with common themes in my work such as the nearly convincing nature of virtual space and the physical impossibility of many of the objects described in it. I addition I've tried to exploit the large size of the works to play with the meaningless idea of size in a virtual environment. Unlike the real things, the relative sizes of virtual objects can be hugely altered without any real practical consideration.
As for the forms, they reflect my continuing desire to wring as much sense out of as little detail as possible. All but the most expensive software gives rendered objects a somewhat generic feel (algorithmic marble texture, hammered metal texture, shiny plastic texture and so on) so the only things of any originality are the forms themselves. These I've struggled to keep simple. For as long as I've been making art it seems my most successful works have always been represented by nothing more sophisticated than the interreaction of simple shapes.
The work was produced on an ageing Amiga computer (now cheaply available in small ads everywhere) using software scammed from the internet for the princely sum of £28.
Simon Norris is an award-winning artist and graphic designer based in Sheffield.
A STATEMENT FROM THE ARTIST
My works are reminiscent of logos or slogans - the super-compressed nuggets of visual data with which we are continually bombarded. But unlike the marketing messages which surround us, these images seek to investigate ambiguity, prompt self-contradictory interpretations, fragment into multiple meanings.
I take my cues from the video screen, taking icons, images and fragments of text from their ghostly digital realm and making them into substantial, solid, material objects. Something interesting happens when tiny patterns of glowing phosphor become artefacts too heavy for one person to lift.
I reclaim materials from skips and junkyards, and sense that the discarded has a peculiar power. In a world in which public images are carefully manipulated, only junk is left to reveal its true nature. By taking this worthless trash and re-making it into something of value, I, the artist, echo the transformative ambition of the alchemist - to turn base metal into gold.
James Wallbank is an artist, designer, itinerant educator, internet sceptic, internet enthusiast and coordinator of Redundant Technology Initiative.
A FOOT SOLDIER AT THE BOOT-SALE
"How much are the snooker balls, mate?"
That exchange, overheard while ploughing the boot-field in search of now-redundant record players, says a lot about the state of mind induced by the ceaseless visual, then sometimes tactile scanning of thousands of heterogenous objects every Sunday morning.
The umbrella and sewing machine make regular appearances, the dissecting table is less in evidence. Myriad chance juxtapositions and slippages of context spark off trains of thought and lines of enquiry, which, half an hour earlier, over a rushed breakfast would have seemed unthinkable. In the research process the boot-sale occupies the bracing middle ground between the musty archives of the reference library and the sterile information overload of the internet.
Over the course of four Sundays this Autumn I carried nearly three times my own bodyweight of redundant hi-fi equipment across the muddy fields of Derbyshire. More than unusually aware of their mass, I decided to calculate the market values of this particular cash-crop. The average price for bootsale record players is 16.5p per pound, there is a wide variation between models, as the table shows.
As the booting season draws to a close, this chaotic installation, with No Overall Control, is my own Harvest Festival offering, made from the good fruits of the good seed scattered on the land, where, each Sunday morning, I religiously plough the fields in search of the meaning of life.
National Panasonic 7
ALBA Designer Series 33
Fidelity (Small) 36
Fidelity (Large) 19
Fidelity UA8 15
Ferguson Studio 20D 11
Fidelity Music Master 14
EKCO Sound Project ZU5k 5
Windsor Stereo System 14
Prinzsound Stereo System 8 9
Tony Kemplen has produced book works that now reside in several prestigious national collections. Sound installation is a new development for him.
A STATEMENT FROM THE ARTISTS
It isn't always easy to reconcile what you wish to say with what you actually say. Global communications and the Internet are intended to improve our ability to communicate with one another, but what we seem to have ended up with is a slow, expensive device that enables lonely people to sit at home looking at a computer screen. 'Nice hair!'
Stephen Cornell & Karl Christian Geleff
We present an alternative, more effective, cheaper, environmentally friendly, less intensive way to communicate that allows the sender and the receiver to occupy the same ground - cardboard satellite dishes made from computer packaging.
Karl Christian Geleff is a sculptor who works with diverse materials. He has previously shown work in Sheffield and all over the North as well as being commissioned to produce public art works. He is currently studying for an M.A in Fine Art at Manchester Metropolitan University.
Stephen Cornell is an artist and curator who has exhibited widely. He is currently studying for an M.A in Photographic studies at City of Westminster University and working on a commission for Yorkshire & Humberside Arts and Photo98.
Falling down is a collaborative, time-based performance installation, combining both human and machine. Anorak clad virus-workers facelessly wander, pace and watch the skies, waiting for their next order from the Big Italian. The performance is accompanied by an evocative soundtrack by John Avery.
- John Avery has been composing for film, theatre and dance since 1982. He has worked with performance groups such as Forced Entertainment and Wendy Houstoun, including the BBC 2 TX Special "Diary of a Dancer".
- Heather Burton is London-based, is currently performing in "Experiment Zero" and has recently worked on the Spice Girls movie.
- Deveril Garraghan is a dancer and performer and runs his own, Sheffield-based performance company ECT.
- Tim Hall has toured throughout Britain and internationally with Forced Entertainment, as well as performing in film and television work.
- Jamie Iddon has performed with several companies in Britain and abroad including the highly-regarded Blast Theory.
- Alexander Kelly & Rachael Walton are members of Third Angel - a Sheffield-based company which has toured extensively across Britain making film, live performance and installation work.
NEW ART RECYCLES TECHNOLOGY
- In 1998 over 1 million PCs are scheduled to be dumped by British businesses. As it stands most of this equipment will end up in landfills.
- Artists are the ideal people to experiment with redundant technology. While the rest of us may find that old computers won't do the tasks we want them to, artists can investigate playfully and be creative with what the machines can do, rather than being frustrated by what they can't.
- Artists should be making work that's relevant to what's going on right now. But many of them aren't getting involved with information technology because it's expensive.
- There's been a lot of media attention given to artworks that use the newest, most expensive computers. But many of these artworks seem less like works of art than like advertisements for the latest technology.
Redundant Technology Initiative isn't just a programme of social action - it's a mechanism for generating high quality, hard-boiled art - art that does what art should do - to ask probing questions about just what the hell's going on.
In "Size Matters" RTI has generated an exhibition that doesn't only function within the gallery space but also constitutes the focus of a programme of networking to which people further afield than the art community contribute. And by 'networking' I'm not talking about internet gimmickry, but about real communication that makes things happen by phone, fax, radio, television, newspapers, e-mail, internet, by post and in person.
By the nature of its recycling, networking programme RTI casts artists in the role of social actors, and by doing that RTI frees them to do what they do best - make art. The organisation provides a context in which artists are given an unusual degree of freedom to make what satisfies their internal criteria without compromise.
The straightforward act of taking extraordinary contemporary debris and doing something extraordinary with it provides a point of access into even the most difficult work. And some of the work can be seen as difficult - and might appropriately be described in words entirely opaque to viewers unfamiliar with such arcane terminology. (I cite the phrases "multimedia installation"; "semiotic investigation"; "recontextualisation"; "deconstruction".) And yet the public's response and media reactions to this, RTI's first show, show are proving to be overwhelmingly positive. Clearly something has changed. In fact, a lot of things have changed.
|We Used to Think...
|Now We Realise...
|Computers are expensive.
|Computers are cheap or free.
|Computers are of interest to an exclusive techno-elite.
|Everyone's life is affected by information technology.
|To be creative artists require cutting-edge technology.
|High technology does not mean high creativity.
|"Digital Art" is something separate and distinct from established art practice.
|It isn't. Computers are tools just as are hammers or paintbrushes.
|"Digital Art" is sterile, hermetically sealed behind the video screen.
|"Digital Art" is no longer a meaningful term.
Internet FCI have generously sponsored Redundant Technology Initiative's Internet presence. Internet FCI provide a comprehensive range of Internet services for businesses and individual users.
Many thanks to the other organisations that have given us help and support so far ...
The Arts Council of England;
Alan Benison, Chartered Accountant;
N. R. Bardwell Ltd;
Black Ninja Design;
Steve Watson, The Crucible Theatre;
Mead Estates Ltd;
Spot Computer Maintenance Ltd;
Redundant Technology Initiative expresses its thanks to the many individuals who have helped the project with their support, time and energy, including Mark Barton, Andy Clarke, Lawrence Cornford, Lewis Cornford, Eithne Cummins, Darren Dilmohammed, Paul Fletcher and Richard Headford.
Special thanks are due to Simon Barfield, our PC guru, whose tireless behind-the-scenes work reviving computers that everyone else thought were irrevocably dead, has made the installation, in particular, possible. Also in the 'special thanks' category is Simon Wadsworth, whose quick thinking in coming up with an eight-bit Turbo Pascal solution to our programming quandary saved the day.
This Document: www.lowtech.org/sizematters