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. 1 Wallpaper cover, 66 works and 2 essays. 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 Digital version, ISBN 978-1-9164523-4-3 Price GBP £17.50
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, from 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, or the meta-data of the exhibited artworks. This beautiful data is transformed, through algorithms, into images like minimalist cubes. You can also see it as infographics which tells a story about the creation and exhibition of each artwork. I made a wall drawing of one of infographics when the John Hansard Gallery was preparing to move to their new location.
To select also implies to curate leading to exhibition and distribution. The database and ‘selections’ are exhibited at the John Hansard Gallery as part of the exhibition Time After Time with artists Caroline Bergvall, Victor Burgin, Hamad Butt, John Latham and Charlotte Posenenske. Through exhibition and independent distribution the artist’s book A_Selection_Of_66 creates a new 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 my 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 minimalist cubes and 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 available in printed form 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 in Southampton.
A_Selection_Of_66 is also available in digital form on my online shop.
Artist’s Book: A_Selection_Of_66_from_JHG, Walter van Rijn ed. (2020)
Digital Edition 2020 (PDF). ISBN 978-1-9164523-4-3; 160pp; 66 illustrations. 2 Articles: Archival Machinations by Jane Birkin; Unconsumable Global Luxury Dispersion: This Alongside That by Walter van Rijn. [After receiving payment I will send an email with the book PDF attached.]
A_Selection_Of_66_From_JHG is linked to the artwork Unconsumable Global Luxury Dispersion (UGLD), also by Walter van Rijn. UGLD 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. UGLD is a hybrid object and it creates symbiotic objects that seek out new ways to disperse. For example, through interaction with a font, a tape, a database.
UGLD 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 UGLD, this book is then another (printed) work through which the artwork UGLD is materialised and dispersed. This artist’s book, for example, can be found at the British Library in London, as well as University libraries at Cambridge, Oxford and Trinity College in Dublin and the National Libraries of Scotland and Wales.
For more information on my UGLD project see https://waltervanrijn.art/tag/ugld-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).