Xpo Gallery

Hypersalon @ MAM, Dec 17 + 19

15 December 2015

The Hypersalon™, conference returns for its second iteration in Paris, running at the Musée d’Art Moderne on December 17 and December 19.

The event, organised by Philippe Riss of XPO Gallery and Mathieu Merlet-Briand, explores the implications of networked culture and runs in conjunction with the Musée d’Art Moderne’s current Co-Workers exhibition.

The conference brings Gregory Chatonsky with ‘Deep Dream: Does the network dream of humans?’ (which takes the 2015 Google release of fantastical images of fish and dogs as its starting point for the exploration of network memory and our “hallucinatory vision of the human world”) on December 17 and a conversation with Christiane Paul and Clément Valla called ‘New Materialities of Digital Art’ on December 19.

See the FB event page for details. **

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Pierre Clément @ XPO Gallery, Oct 22 – Dec 12

22 October 2015

Pierre Clément is presenting his Transcom Primitive solo exhibition at Paris’ XPO Gallery, opening October 22 and running to December 12.

Curated by Marianne Derrien, the show is a first at XPO by Paris-based Clément, whose work interweaves the aesthetic, cultural and political forms and considerations emerging with the internet.

The exhibition will show the (tele-)communication between assemblages of manufactured objects and raw materials, questioning “the sculptural potential of the image” and the room for non-human error within sculpture, design and technology. “Thereby”, as Derrien states in the press release, giving each of these forms an alternate history filled with fictions and new symbols”.

See the XPO Gallery website for details.**

[Ed’s note: the exhibition has since been extended to January 16, 2016]

Pierre Clement, 'Jus an illusion' (2015). Install view. Courtesy Dustin Cauchi + Francesca Mangion.
Pierre Clement, ‘Jus an illusion’ (2015). Detail. Courtesy Dustin Cauchi + Francesca Mangion.

Oxi More On @ XPO / Espace Verney-Carron, Sep 8

7 September 2015

XPO gallery is hosting a new exhibition titled Oxi More On at Espace Verney-Carron, opening at the Lyons art space on September 8.

George and Archibald Verney-Carron let xpo gallery take over with a new exhibition featuring Angelo PlessasPierre ClémentJulieta ArandaAram BarthollVincent BroquaireGrégory ChatonskySara LudyPaul SouvironKatie Torn and Clément Valla.

The exhibition, curated by Alexis Jakubowicz and Philippe Riss, is caught in the fiction of a long-sacrificed miracle, somewhere between “torpor and life”, inspired by a poem by Charles Baudelaire, a famous painting by Watteau, and “the eternal residence of love”.

See the exhibition page for details. **

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Paul Souviron, ‘Civilisation’ (2014).

Header image: Sara Ludy, ‘Dream House’ (2014). Video still. 

Rollin Leonard @ Transfer Gallery, May 2 – 23

1 May 2015

Transfer Gallery is bringing in New Portraiture this weekend, the gallery’s second solo exhibition by Rollin Leonard, in a new partnership with XPO Gallery and Cloaque.org, running at the Brooklyn space from May 2 to May 23.

The photographic, semi-sculptural objects in the New Portraiture collection are the result of Leonard’s extensive new series of work that will span three exhibition spaces. Opening physically at Transfer on May 2, the collection will then exhibit digitally at Cloaque.org on May 20, and, after wrapping up at Transfer on May 23, the physical collection will move on to Paris’s XPO Gallery on May 28.

Continuing his exploration of the human body’s “digital afterlife”, Leonard’s photographed subjects are flattened by uniform lighting and an all-focus depth of field, algorithmically disjoined and dislimbed into abstract and yet still recognizably humanoid shapes.

See the Transfer Gallery exhibition page for details. **

Les Oracles @ XPO Gallery, Feb 12 – Apr 4

10 February 2015

Paris’s XPO Gallery is bringing in ten artists for a science fiction-inspired show called Les Oracles, running from February 12 to April 4.

The group show, which features an all-female lineup, includes in its lineup Julieta Aranda, Juliette Bonneviot, Caroline Delieutraz, Aleksandra Domanović, Jeanette Hayes, Kristin Lucas, Brenna Murphy, Katja Novitskova, Katie Torn, and Saya Woolfalk.

Curator Marisa Olson will also be editing an exhibition catalogue to accompany the show, designed by PWR Studio and featuring a short sci-fi work by artist Claire Evans.

The media of the show is diverse, ranging from classical modes like painting and sculpture, to experimental video and animation, and using the tropes of science fiction including dystopia, cosmology, and fantasy to restructure narratives and create alternate realities.

See the Les Oracles exhibition page for details. **

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Events + exhibitions, Feb 9 – 15

9 February 2015

Shifting focus away from some standout festivals and fairs starting the year, the week beginning February 9 is a big one for one-off events and exhibitions. Kimmo Modig and Shana Moulton will be performing in Athens and Nottingham respectively, while Hannah Sawtell, Jenny Moore and PC Music‘s Finn Diesel are performing in London.

Also in the UK capital, are new exhibition openings at Jupiter Woods, Project Native Informant, Grove House and Vilma Gold, while Eloïse Bonneviot is contributing to art label Caustic Coastal‘s first digital commission and the Pale Journal Issue 1 is launching at Space with performances and readings from artists including Sophie Jung and Anna Zett.

In Berlin, Leslie Kulesh is presenting as part of a Hotel Palenque commission at Center, while Emmy Skensved and Grégoire Blunt are showing eStamina at Import Projects, along with texts from Clémence de La Tour du Pin, Beny Wagner, Susan Ploetz among others. There’s an app launch happening at American Medium in New York and a poetry series launching at San Serriffe in Amsterdam, while London-based artist Hannah Perry is opening an exhibition in LA.

There’s more so see below:

EVENTS

Oculus Book Talk: Architecture/Astrology, Feb 9

Radical Thinkers @ Tate Modern, Feb 9 – 10

Garrett Nelson @ Oslo10, Feb 10

Kimmo Modig @ LIFE SPORT, Feb 10

Paper Circuits @ The White Building, Feb 11

8 the app release party @ American Medium, Feb 11

FR€€ ₮HI₦G$ @ STCFTHOTS, Feb 12

Les Oracles @ XPO Gallery, Feb 12 – Apr 4

Ways of Something @ The Photographers’ Gallery, Feb 12

Eloïse Bonneviot @ Caustic Coastal, Feb 12

Giant Swan, Hannah Sawtell &c @ The Waiting Room, Feb 12

Shana Moulton @ Primary, Feb 12

Non-Threat Event @ T.Chances, Feb 12

Section 6.2 @ The Yard, Feb 13

Rundgang Party 2015, Feb 13

Pale Journal Issue 1 launch @ Space, Feb 13

Carl Palm @ Parallel Oaxaca, Feb 14 – Mar 14

Finn Diesel @ Edition Hotel, Feb 14

Sue Tompkins @ Young Team, Feb 14

NOON ON THE MOON launch @ San Serriffe, Feb 14

Leslie Kulesh @ Center, Feb 14

DEBBIE @ Resistance Gallery, Feb 14

Jenny Moore @ Serpentine Galleries, Feb 14

OPENINGS

Beatrice Loft Schulz @ Grove House, Feb 9 – 15

Ned Vena @ Project Native Informant, Feb 11 – Mar 22

Graeme Thomson + Silvia Maglioni @ The Showroom, Feb 11 – Mar 28

Queer Resistance @ RM Gallery, Feb 12 – 28

Common Grounds @ Villa Stuck, Feb 12 – May 17

Patricia L Boyd @ Occasional Table, Feb 13 – 21

Mariana Ferratto @ The Gallery Apart, Feb 13 – Apr 11

Premiums Interim Projects @ Royal Academy of Arts, Feb 13 – Mar 11

☁ Self ~ Storage ☁ @ EMBASSY, Feb 13 – Mar 1

Grégoire Blunt + Emmy Skensved @ Import Projects, Feb 14 – Mar 7

Marlie Mul + Life Gallery @ Vilma Gold, Feb 14 – Mar 21

COOL – As a State of Mind @ MAMO, Feb 14 – Apr 26

It is My Diamond Now @ Jupiter Woods, Feb 14 – Mar 1

Hannah Perry @ Steve Turner Contemporary, Feb 14 – Mar 14

Isaac Lythgoe @ Almanac Projects, Feb 14 – Apr 4

See here for exhibitions opening last week.

Header image: Shana Moulton, ‘SPF 2012’ (2013).

Art Basel Miami Beach, Dec 4 – 7

2 December 2014

Art Basel is returning to Miami Beach this week for its annual stint, running at venues throughout the city from December 4 to December 7.

Art Basel Miami Beach continues its glitzy run this year promising over 250 international galleries from over 30 countries bringing more than 4,000 artists, including the US’s Clement Valla, Rollin Leonard, Kate Durbin, Mattie Hillock and Philip David Stearns, as well as France’s Pierre Clement, Vincent Broquaire, and Estrid Lutz + Emile Mold.

And running for the week of Art Basel is @hypersalon, a “meeting point for contemporary art” created by Transfer Gallery and XPO Gallery in partnership with Hyperallergic. The week of salon-style exhibitions, hosted conversations and daily artist talks include some names all too familiar to aqnb, including Daniel Temkin, as well as Carla Gannis and Claudia Hart who recently showed at the Coded After Lovelace exhibition, Spanish artist Claudia Mate, Marisa Olson of Art Post-Internet, and artist Alma Alloro.

See the Art Basel Miami Beach website for details. **

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Hike, Hack / Hic et Nunc @ XPO gallery, Oct 9 – Nov 26

7 October 2014

The Hike, Hack / Hic et Nunc group show will be running both online and at XPO Gallery in Paris from October 9 until November 26.

Curated by Alexis Jakubowicz and Jean-Brice Moutout of the Parisian curation office NonPrintingCharacter, the group exhibition features a small selection of artists “working as a device for observing art tip over into an information system” designed to show that the modern condition of creativity and aestheticism is not one of movement but of piracy.

The works of the featured artists – nine in total, including Pierre Clément, Guillaume Collingon, Manuel Fernandez, and Jill Magid – aren’t displayed in the gallery space, so to say, but “applied to it” a kind of art-world version of ‘the emperor with no clothes’:

“The kinds of people who “do” galleries, as they “do” shopping or sport, will walk in and see only a wall… The exhibition is there; it’s just shut off from universal experience so that it’s directly experienced by a small number only, admitted at the sole discretion of the gallery-keeper.”

See the FB exhibition page for details. **

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Transfer + XPO Gallery + Clement Valla, April 19

17 April 2014

New York’s TRANSFER and Paris’ XPO galleries are coming together to “bring a transatlantic group of artists to an international collector base”.

As two organisations joining the slow swell of people and collectives looking to monetise and thus make a living for artists working in the digital realm, the partnership “represents a new collaborative mode of support for artists engaging the possibilities and contradictions of our contemporary moment”.

They’ll be initiating the partnership with Brooklyn-based artist Clement Valla‘s Surface Survey exhibition, opening at TRANSFER April 19 and running to May 10, to be followed up by a new one  at XPO Gallery next year.

networked culture.See the Transfer Gallery website for details. **

Header image:

Constant Dullaart @ XPO Gallery, Apr 25

8 April 2014

On April 25, Paris’s XPO Gallery will open its doors for the new Constant Dullaart solo exhibition titled ‘BRAVE NEW PANDERERS’.

Like that of most post-internet artists, both the focus of Dullaart’s work and the medium through which it is expressed are intimately tied to the internet and the digital world in which we increasingly live our lives. The ubiquity with which the internet has permeated our culture has sweeping consequences, but ones often left unexplored and obscure. Dullaart’s exhibition zeros in the unanswered questions, begging questions like who is responsible for the production of machinery that is beginning to govern our lives, and what the human costs of this movement towards a digital existence will be.

To read more from aqnb about Constant Dullaart, check out our feature-length interview with the artist, or get caught up on his latest exhibitions at Import Projects, Future Gallery, The White Building, and Moving Image London.

For specific event details, including location, head over to the aqnb event listing. **

Header image: Artwork by Constant Dullaart. Image courtesy XPO Gallery. 

An interview with Constant Dullaart

12 March 2014

When your core medium is the Internet, studio visits are largely relegated to the (albeit expansive) browser and computer screen. But today I’m being given a glimpse into Constant Dullaart’s Berlin space. It’s an opportunity to snoop around: printed piles of some of his ideas, upcoming projects, and documents relating to his recently launched company, DullTech.

Spending three months in China on an artist residency and exploring the industrial urban sites of the Pearl River Delta in Guangdong province of the country’s south, Dullaart decided to make his own company. DullTech primarily manufactures media players for showing video work in galleries and museums. The USB box syncs up wirelessly to project video work, offering what he sees as a much more effective alternative to other methods. It’s produced in a factory in Shenzhen, where it isn’t always easy to gain access: “In order to get into those factories you have to pose as a businessman but that felt so artificial”, he says laughing at the idea that, as an artist, he could play that role convincingly. “Until I had an idea, and then all of a sudden I was a businessman and I could go in.”

Constant Dullaart, 'The Death of the URL' (2013). Image courtesy the artist.
Constant Dullaart, ‘The Death of the URL’ (2013). Image courtesy the artist.

Similarly, the media player is a kind of Trojan horse, presenting Dullaart’s own work as a default. It’s a method of distribution that he says stems from the tradition of mail art–a movement built on the idea of subverting hierarchical art distribution networks through the postal service. When galleries test out the media player in the space, without their own content inputted, his work will automatically show up.

On a smaller scale, DullTech is also producing a device called ‘Anti-Sleep.’ It’s a small radio that plays loops from GarageBand on rapid shuffle. It works like a car radio that is continuously on scan: the perpetual starting over designed to keep you awake (and probably really annoy you).

Dullaart’s work often deals with changing mechanisms of control in the online world. His piece ‘The Death of the URL’ consists of 38 ‘x’s, followed by the porn domain name .xxx and is posed as a nostalgic commemoration of a foregone mode of interacting with the web and an acknowledgement that, increasingly, we spend most of our time online interacting with proprietary systems and corporate software. As a political and poetic gesture, Dullaart gave away his Facebook profile in a performance at the New Museum in 2012. His Facebook identity was taken over by someone else, asking them to change the password to block his own access. He then made a film – ‘Crystal Pillars’ –documenting his confusion in the aftermath: “it was like social cold turkey.”

In 2008, Dullaart launched the first in a series of animated interventions into the Google site, thedisagreeinginternet.com. He was aware that the company’s claims to neutrality were questionable at best and decided to give it an explicit opinion: so now it shakes its proverbial head (“the internet says “no””). Later, he made therevolvinginternet.com, which became a hit, even with Google itself. After disabling the hack but without explicitly acknowledging his piece (though it was spread widely on social media with #Google) the company implanted its own Easter egg into their search engine two weeks later: if you type “Do a Barrel Roll” in the search engine, the screen will revolve.

“Imagine that Rauschenberg would make a collage but with live content. You’re manipulating a way of seeing something that is happening right now,” Dullaart says, clearly passionate about the political impact of his work and excited by the idea of it becoming a collective project, “what the Internet stood for, for a long time, is something that I’m still nostalgically supporting. I think that was a beautiful system but it’s gone, over.”

I’m interested in the politics behind your work: the Internet as public space and the way you critique the privatizing impulses that are taking hold. You occasionally mention your pessimism or skepticism about net artists today and their lack of politics, in comparison to earlier movements in the 1990s.

CD: I think that only within the last decade people have been accustomed to the fact that they can self-publish very easily. When I was in art school, there was the Internet but it wasn’t as common. If you wanted to have your video on TV you had to shoot in broadcast quality. You had to wade through a hierarchical system to get your stuff out there, from curators to journalists to editors. Suddenly, I realized I could find my own audience and get direct responses. I was on this network called “Delicious” where you could share your bookmarks. Through that community I met Cory Arcangel and a lot of people that were really inspirational to me.

Now I talk to my 13-year-old niece and she has just reached her 10,000th follower on Tumblr. I asked her how I could find her and she wouldn’t tell me, she said it was her secret space. She has this audience but she also has a savvy way of dealing with the space and not connecting it with other identities.

There’s a generation of artists now that has a fan-base and access to publishing but they also want the recognition from the hierarchical old system. They start to make very conventional art to be approved by the conventional art system, the gallery. And then you have ‘post-internet’: getting the visual and aesthetic things happening online and catering to the gallery.

Constant Dullaart. YIA 2013 install view. © vinciane verguethen. Image courtesy XPO gallery.
Constant Dullaart. YIA 2013 install view. © Vinciane Verguethen. Image courtesy XPO gallery.

In your piece ‘the Death of the URL’ you seem to be nostalgic about this bygone way of using the Internet. Do you advocate buying domain names and continuing to use the URL?

CD: I advocate this idealist system that it was built on because it was about access to publishing for all. That’s the cultural revolution. The Internet was designed to be used by everyone. With a certain amount of technical knowledge –which of course depends on how much time, education and money you have –it was basically accessible. Now we’re working in all these corporate backyards. These servers used to be private backyards connecting to each other, making a kind of artificial public space but now it’s not public space but a fucking big shopping mall owned by Facebook. We follow their rules, in their proprietary system.

You have this series of work exploring the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) economies. In some of your videos, like ‘Niagara Falls, Special Economic Zone PRC 1994‘ (2013), you have footage of tourists at the Window of the World theme park in Shenzhen. Do they know they are being filmed?

CD: Well, there was a big camera there. I got permission to film in the park, officially, but there were some moments when it was a bit awkward. I have a few images –not many because I was kind of freaked out –of a field trip of Chinese soldiers at the park, posing with different sights. They asked me a lot of questions.

Do you feel like there’s a danger of creating a kind of paternalistic outlook on people in these countries in your work? You called the Internet controls in China “cute” and “naïve” – you might risk taking things out of context or underestimating the cultural struggles at work.

CD: Of course there’s a sense of exoticism about another country’s cultural artifacts, especially if you don’t understand the language. In this social commentary there’s always a certain form of patronisation. I think you will always have that and I definitely don’t want to shy away from it. Even talking about the first PhotoShopped image ‘Jennifer in Paradise‘ and redistributing it because you feel that people should see it, has a kind of judgmental aspect: “Sure guy, you might have designed Photoshop but I see a cultural relevance that is larger than your own.”

In China, I was trying to comment on the fact that people were relating to an artificial vision of Western society and how this artificiality is displayed. There are many photos of people behaving like tourists, which they are. I was doing the same thing. But I tried to reflect on it as well, and just by reflecting on it it takes on another dimension. But that doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily paternalistic.

Image courtesy Constant Dullart.
Image courtesy Constant Dullaart.

You had planned to do a ceremony around the World Trade Centre replica in the park.

CD: Yes, I think it really places the whole thing in time. It’s a beautiful gesture. I wondered how much they had considered the decision not to remove it. If it was an obvious choice it becomes a beautifully placed in time sculptural vision of the world. Within a country where it’s hard to travel out, you offer people a touristic version of the rest of the world: you bring it to them. By choosing not to update it, it becomes a record of how the world was at that time.

I suggested that when they planned to update it, that we should have a small ceremony where we would invite a couple people and there would be two minutes of silence in the entire park, because there’s continuous background music everywhere. A recognition that something changed. The leaders of the park said they were not interested in keeping the park up to date. They like it as it is.

The park was built in 1994 and to me that was a beautiful gesture because my dad died in 1994. It was a vision of the world at the time when my dad was still alive.

Tell me about your open letter to the organizers of the Art Hack Day at transmediale ‘Afterglow’ this year. You declined their invitation to take part in the event, partly because people weren’t being compensated for their work.

CD: Yes but that wasn’t my main problem. Although that did make it hard for people to travel to the event to make their work happen. My main problem with it was that people had 48 hours to prepare something and then they had one of the most interested audiences available in Germany and maybe in Europe. The amount of care they could put in to producing their work was minimal, and they were forced to do it like that. Why did they need to do it as an exhibition? They could have had Art Hack Day and opened it to anyone, the exhibition format was unusual.

I really felt there was a “creative” corporate system at work and it just produced these Arduino hacks. But what do we need at this time? We need considerate works. If you’re going to collect all these people and have these wonderful talks, then put these works out as they should be and actually contextualize them with other pieces that make strong gestures. Instead of buying into an almost anthropological research into these “funny things” that people are doing, these hacker camps. We should be increasing the level of conversation in a conference like that rather than simplifying it.

What are you preparing for the upcoming Surplus Living group exhibition with km temporaer at the Alte Münze?

CD: Shortly there will be a release of my manifest, which is called ‘Balconism: Balconisation not Balkanisation’ …about how the Balkans is used as a term now, within art criticism, as a separation of certain niches.

We are at a point in time where we have to choose our target audience, we shouldn’t just broadcast widely. We’re going to stand on this particular balcony and choose to be out in public and we have to define cultural codes of how to do that, otherwise our children won’t be able to choose when they are in public and when they’re not. Everything is being watched and there are microphones and cameras ready to document everything.

That will be part of the lecture I’m making, which will be projected within a rave. I’ll be playing the BRIC mix –a collection of local music from Brasil, Russia, India and China, the upcoming industrial economies once dubbed the BRIC countries, remixed to ‘euro house’. Local music mixed into this culturally imperialistic structure of Western music. While I was travelling around, it was almost like in the 18th century when you had these ‘Grand Tours’ when artists would go to Italy and come back to show what they had learned. I felt like this was my contemporary Grand Tour. I’d go to all these up-and-coming industrial economies where they have the means to invite me as an artist and I could go through these music stores looking for music. So I will DJ this mix and initiate a rave. **

Constant Dullaart is a Berlin-based artist. He will be exhibiting at Aram Bartholl’s FULL SCREEN group exhibition at Paris’ XPO Gallery, opening March 13, and km temporaer’s Surplus Living at Alte Münze in Berlin, running March 14 to 23, 2014.

Artists announced for FULL SCREEN exhibition

14 February 2014

The list of artists taking part in Aram Bartholl‘s FULL SCREEN group exhibition at Paris’ XPO Gallery on March 13 has been announced and it’s no less than impressive.

In celebrating the end of “pixels in a rectangle” and the beginning of straight-to-retina mediation, artists to feature include Jennifer Chan, Petra Cortright and Constant Dullaart, as well as Evan Roth, Addie Wagenknecht, Ai Weiwei and more. In the words of Bartholl himself, “for your eyes only”.

See the XPO Gallery website for details. **

Header image: Rafaël Rozendaal, ‘everything always everywhere .com’

 

Paul Souviron @ XPO Gallery, Jan 30 – Feb 24

29 January 2014

Paul Souviron presents his first solo show, Entropie/Anthropie, in Paris at XPO Gallery, running January 30 to February 24.

Bringing together an exhibition across sculpture, performance and installation in creating “space, gaps, landscapes or scenes” of the conquered kind, the show, with its title suggesting themes of decay and human intervention, explores the hostilities of our “retro-futuristic present” by shaping its own environment. Much like the territorial hostilities of its own nature, Souviron presents the world of the imagination inhabited by a species that’s doomed to self-destruction.

See the XPO Gallery website for details. **

FULL SCREEN @ XPO Gallery, Mar 13

21 January 2014

Berlin-based artist Aram Bartholl is curating an exhibition, FULL SCREEN, at Paris’ XPO Gallery, opening on March 13.

As the screen disappears, along with our control over electronic devices, Bartholl and a selection of 10 yet-to-be-announced artists will perform an anticipatory requiem to the physical picture display by celebrating some of its most extreme incarnations. Soon to be squashed by direct to retina projection technology, Bartholl and company announce:

“Pixels in a rectangle will be history as a medium like oil painting as a media technique is history today”.

RIP. **

Vincent Broquaire @ XPO Gallery running to Jan 11

20 December 2013

Artist Vincent Broquaire‘s solo show SEQUENCES is showing at Paris’ XPO Gallery, in parallel to the launch of his book of the same name, from December 14 to January 11.

Presenting his books and drawings, Broquaire explores perception through framing, running the two formats in parallel to each other, while examining the way we process imagery in a “co-existential” manner -whether that’s via the sequential cause-and-effect of a book or the passive direction of a curated exhibition. When you consider that the very composition of a drawing is a complex interaction between artistic intent and interpretation, it makes for some interesting considerations in the context of modern technology, as per this:

“We live in an age where very little of nature has not been touched by man, and technology is effectively an extension of our bodies and mind.  Is it not time to question the inherited oppositions of man versus nature, man versus the machine, and even the physical versus the virtual?  Reality has changed, but has our ability to realise that changed?”

See the XPO Gallery website for details. **

Phil Thompson @ XPO Gallery reviewed

29 November 2013

Last in on the market and hounded by poor understanding, digital art is poised to earn its due recognition. That’s thanks to the imperative of a few art galleries tirelessly bringing web artists out of the shadows in Paris, designing a new scale for interactive experience, from screen to space. As an astute and  valuable exhibitor of computer-based works in the city, XPO Gallery acts as a real Pygmalion (as in the mythical figure who fell in love with one of his own creations, not the George Bernard Shaw play) of the area by launching countless debuts. Philippe Riss, the owner, confesses that the success he’s meeting is inversely proportional to the prior reproaches he suffered for having dared work outside the conventional circles of taste makers and it’s exhibitions like London-based artist Phil Thompson‘s Screen/Space that more than make up for it.

Graduating two years ago, Thompson’s digital practice is already mature, aiming at questioning classical dichotomies between an artwork and its copy, materiality and immateriality, subject and object. Blending 2D and 3D tools, the artist cultivates a piecemeal approach of infinite combinations and permutations of data. With ‘David1.tif’ and ‘Venus1.tif’, he recreates strikingly new original images from pre-existing and altered 3D-scan documentation of Michelangelo’s ‘David’ and the ‘Venus de Milo’, while providing a renewed aesthetic experience as a sort of meta-creation. As an abstract re-reading of an astonishing and monumental sculptural heritage the diptych delivers the original artworks of their function, developing its own intrinsic qualities stemming from the interplay of software and the set of options available to the artist.

Phil Thompson, 'The Iterations' (2013). Digital print on silk, Iteration 1 to 3. © Vinciane Verguethen.
Phil Thompson, ‘The Iterations’ (2013). Digital print on silk, Iteration 1 to 3. © Vinciane Verguethen.

How can we fail to think of André Malraux’s speculation about the idea that the world of reproductions forms a ‘Museum without Walls’? Marshall McLuhan went one step further, arguing that mass media itself was one. But the thing is, as said institution of images grew its output and audience with the Internet, it has reached a critical point where the collective consciousness has also increased tenfold, the ease with which we can generate new images by appropriation, hybridisation and mixing, expanding even more. This field of possibilities is an annex of the mythical museum that doesn’t necessarily seek to free itself from its walls. Instead, the ‘virtual’ and the ‘real’ interact, turning the experimental laboratory itself into an exhibition space.

In a reversed process, Phil Thompson transfers digital images to canvas for the exhibition. In his Copyrights series, Thompson demonstrates that Google’s Art Project is trapped in a contradiction: democratically promoting access to physical paintings belonging to the largest museum collections worldwide, while imposing Copyright restrictions on them by means of a blur filter. Here, the artist pushed the reproducibility of artworks to their limit by collecting the images by taking screenshots, emailing them to oil painting reproduction companies in Dafen, China, to be copied, by hand, to the scale of the original painting, and thereby depriving the Copyright of its very function, thus exposing its redundancy.

Phil Thompson, 'Head image 2' (2013). © Vinciane Verguethen.
Phil Thompson, ‘Head image 2’ (2013). © Vinciane Verguethen.

Meanwhile, the Iterations series is an emblem of rhizomatic digital art. Starting with a core silk print, the artist uploaded documentation of his work online and encouraged people to edit and re-imagine it. Thompson then cropped and curated these images in new versions of the physical work, while demonstrating that the artist does, decides and chooses more than his computer and digital art is not the automated process some believe it to be.

After all, we are currently witnessing an institutionalisation of the back-and-forth relation between ‘original’ and ‘copy’, leading to an aesthetic enrichment based on the freedom of trial and error; the process of “do, undo, redo differently”. Such an initiative can go well beyond that, as in Copy Companion Club (CCC). Basically, a collective who copy each other, they’re governed by the idea that only the artists who have been copied by a Companion or had copied a Companion can become Companions. **

Phil Thompson’s Screen/Space is running at XPO Gallery until December 13, 2013.

Header image: Phil Thompson, ‘David1.tif’ and ‘Venus1.tif’ (2013). © Vinciane Verguethen.