Above: Jeff Robb - Unnatural Causes 2. Lenticular photograph
On my wanders through the London Art Fair earlier this year, I couldn’t help but notice there was quite the craze for lenticular photography- a kitsch relic of point of sale advertisements, 80s film posters, and cheap children’s toys (remember Pogs?). So much so, Damien Hirst had a lenticular photographic version of his shark in a vat (The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living - Paul Stolper Gallery).
For those who aren’t aware of what a lenticular is - though you’ve probably seen one at your local fish and chip shop - it is a form of 3D printing where a minimum of two images are interwoven, and overlaid with a regularly ridged plastic screen to either give the effect of animation or depth. Almost like a physical forerunner of the GIF.
There are several artists who employ this technique to varying degrees of success, however I think it was most effectively used by Jeff Robb in his work Unnatural Causes 2 (represented by Mauger Modern Art stand G4). In this work, the lenticular adds both movement and depth, as we are presented with a black and white photograph of naked women contained within hexagons and contorted into an uncomfortable position within the geometry of the space - reminiscent of a beehive. The unnaturalness of this human apery is given a certain patina by the use of the lenticular, recalling a science fiction based dystopia.
Nonsense on my right, nonsense on my left, there is no justice, 2014
Wool tapestry, 180 x 250 cm
The Approach, London
47 Approach Road
27th February – 6th April 2014
The performative aspect of Beuno-Boutellier’s practice is evident through all the works on exhibition at The Approach gallery; paintings that are worked on the floor, off-cuts of rough canvas and plastic that through inter-play of the two materials form the basis of large tapestries. The work is considered, subtle, balanced and silent; beautifully orchestrated experiments in time and space.
Initially I found the work too silent, too subtle – I appreciate the grand, the bombastic and the sublime. However, on reflection I understood that there is a tension that lies in this work tracking the movements of the body in space and its intervention upon the mediums of Beuno-Boutellier’s practice: the practical aesthetics of considered and quiet beauty.
What I found most interesting about this work was the translation of the artifacts of her practice into the large-scale tapestries. The multi-faceted, almost onion-skin like distillation from one media to another; the interplay with her body and within themselves, which was then photographed and closely cropped, translated into digital imagery, and condensed again to form the basis of the tapestry works.
Tapestry weaving is performative in itself: loud, grand, and physical. However, here we are presented with muted tones of beige, brown and white. This, almost contradictory exploration of technique and image, and its relation to performance and the body, furthered to serve the flattening and flux of media at each stage of the process: from object to digital image, to cropped pixilation woven back into the physical world.
The other Thursday, I had the pleasure of seeing the Space is Ace collective and the Photocopy Club’s collaborative exhibition at Doomed gallery, Dalston. Melanie King, co-founder of Space is Ace explained her core philosophy around the exhibition:
[We are] exploring the glut of astronomical images… at our disposal, and how I don’t feel as a culture that we are really processing the sheer scale and sublime nature of these photographs, so this exhibition intends to address these ideas.
Photocopying as an image manipulation technique has a particularly strong aesthetic. It can run the risk of over-shadowing the image due to its reductive nature; tone is reduced and contrast increased describing the form but little of the detail.
However, with this exhibition the usage of photocopy serves to describe what is at the heart of astronomical photography: space and time, light and dark, presence and absence. The idea that - as Melanie points out - we are so used to seeing these images of space we forget that they have been transmitted from beyond the limits of spatial/temporal understanding.
The formal manipulations that are achieved through the application of photocopy to these images have created a beautiful parallel. They have become, in a way, both a disposable short hand and a guiding aesthetic in the last 45 years since the moon landing.
It was a shame that this show was not on for longer