Walter van Rijn (Ed.) 2018 A_Selection_Of_66_From_JHG : Unconsumable Global Luxury Dispersion Artist's Book, Softback, Crown Quarto Format 246x189mm, 160 pp Limited Edition of 33 numbered and signed copies. ISBN 978-1-9164523-0-5 Price GBP £50 Available in London and at Hansard Gallery Southampton or email me to reserve a copy
If you would make art for robots, what would that look like? I imagine a human selection plus algorithms plus machinistic application creating 66 artworks.
The selection of data is made from the John Hansard Gallery’s exhibition history. More precisely, I selected data from TITLE(date)016, a database which contains all of the artworks exhibited at the John Hansard Gallery between 1979 and 2016, based on what I thought would be ideal, beautiful data. In turn, the database itself will become part of an exhibition at the gallery later this year. In this way, A_Selection_Of_66 is part of a flow of artworks and associated meta-data. During circulation parts of the artworks are endlessly copied (mostly their meta-data) while other parts remain unique. You could say that it is a function of the artworld to guard the distinction between the meta-data and the unique. However, in today’s post-digital context of art making and art consumption, this distinction is not a given anymore and one of the starting points of the artist’s project here is to rethink that distinction.
A_Selection_Of_66 starts with an article that describes the meta-data of an artwork (for example an artwork title) as the material the artist is going to work with or as the artwork itself. As a result of this switch between meta-data and ‘artwork’, a hybrid is created of both categories. Anticipating the ongoing circulation of this work, it will be interesting to see how this artist’s book will be absorbed into the artworld and its archives.
Following on is an article Archival Machinations by Jane Birkin that delves deeper into the connection between the work of the archivist and the artist.
The main part of the book contains a selection of 66 artworks. They are selected for their ‘ideal’ data, and based on this data each artwork is transformed into a different, unique visual entity that refers to ‘infographics’. A current ubiquitous form of graphics used in the news and in business reports to make sense of a complex set of data.
A_Selection_Of_66 is only available as a limited edition artist’s book of 33 signed and numbered copies. A_Selection_Of_66_From_JHG is available (price £50) at Bookartbookshop London and at the John Hansard Gallery bookshop
A_Selection_Of_66_From_JHG is linked to the artwork Unconsumable Global Luxury Dispersion (UGLyD), also by Walter van Rijn. UGLyD is a long-term project that comments on the distribution of art and other consumer goods through online as well as gallery based networks. It plays with the flow of things and how our categorisations of humans, objects and other things define access and visibility. UGLyD is an hybrid object and it creates hybrid or symbiotic objects that seek out new ways to disperse. For example, through interaction with a font, a tape, a database.
UGLyD is distributed on three platforms alongside each other: as an exhibition, as printed matter, and as digital data in a database or online. As part of the project UGLyD, this book is then another (printed) work through which the artwork UGLyD is materialised and dispersed. For more information on UGLyD see https://waltervanrijn.wordpress.com/category/project/uglyd-digital-archival-project/
Jane Birkin, artist, designer and scholar, based in Southampton, UK.
She is a visiting lecturer and research assistant at Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton, where in May 2015 she completed a practice-based PhD entitled, ‘Units of Description: Writing and Reading the “Archived” Photograph’.
Birkin also works on exhibitions in Archives and Manuscripts at the University of Southampton Library, as exhibition designer as well as in a curatorial role. Taking the archive as the primary locus of her own practice, she is specifically concerned with institutional description techniques that define and manage the photographic image. She employs the dry, restricted language of archival description as a radical platform for exploring image temporalities and non-linear temporal progressions within image sets. Birkin’s practice functions at the intersection of text and image, combining media culture and techniques of the archive, as well as contemporary discourse on art, photography and conceptual writing. Through text-only works, still and moving image installations and lecture-performance, she unfolds the term ‘archive’, not as a discussion of nostalgia and decay, but by approaching images through information management, through the ‘grey literature’ of descriptions and lists.
She has exhibited and performed nationally and internationally and her recent publications include: ‘Art, Work, and Archives: Performativity and the Techniques of Production’ (Archive Journal, Issue 5, Fall 2015), ‘Describing the Archive: Preservation of Space, Time and Discontinuity in Photographic Sequences’ (Networking Knowledge, 9(5), July 2016), and (forthcoming) ‘Translate and Describe: Archive-Based Image Description as an Intermedial Translation Technique’ (Amodern 8: Translation-Machination, 2018).
Walter van Rijn waltervanrijn.wordpress.com/info/