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Not new, but new to me. 04 May 2016

A topic of late in the studios is the idea of originality. The “I thought of it first”, or “did you know so and so is also making XY and Z in the same way I am?!”

Sitting here in the Gallery I once again hear this conversation; “turning scanners into engineered cameras has been done before, it’s not new or original”. I find all of this thought odd.

For a start artists are thieves, we all know this. That is as old as time. We steal what’s around us, pop it in the blender that is our minds and reform it. The same but new. It can’t not be new, because someone has added their interpretation. Even an ‘exact’ copy of a clay pot, made by hand will never be an exact copy, even if it’s very close. Different fingerprints will exist within the clay. The same but different. Modern technology gets us close, but we all know that faint greying caused by a photocopier or the cold starkness of mass production.

Going back to the studio, I am not surprised similar work is being produced. We are all feeding from similar (if not the same) troughs. Nottingham is after all a city, a concentration of humanness with all the things that go along with that. We are sharing the same culture, we see the same art on a daily basis. We have the same tutors. We all ‘eat’ the same, washing it down by being surrounded with each other’s ideas constantly. Similar conclusions will be drawn and similar problems faced, followed by similar solutions. I would be surprised in a course of nearly 300 students, having access to the same facilities, the same local culture and being all mixed together, if 300 completely different practices were born with 300 completely original works being produced, which didn’t even reference the work of another, just slightly.

Yeah maybe, maybe scanners have been turned in to rudimentary cameras before. Yeah maybe they have been set up in a gallery before. But never in this gallery, never in this arrangement by these artists, Andrew and Ian Foxall, from Foxall studios.  Never being experienced by this exact group of people. Never with the same references behind the idea. Never with these exact scanner models, or even these exact machines (allowing for the minute differences between each resulting from teeny tiny differences in part placements). Never with the same coding, as the coding has been developed specifically for the exhibition, and is changed and becoming more efficient as the show goes on.

This exhibition is unique, and will never happen again in the same way. The idea is timeless, fed from history, pop culture and social etiquette. From technological advancement and human behaviour.

Am I saying the ideas used to make Publishing Rooms are new and never before seen? No. Am I saying they will never appear in art again? No.

I think it is not possible, or at least very rare, to have these sought after completely new ideas. In my opinion that’s just not how we learn. We build upon the work of others, the knowledge of others and each time add that next layer of thought, of research, of experience. What is new? Can anything be new? When we say we have something new, usually what we mean is it is new to us.

This exhibition is interactive, allowing you the opportunity to add to the website, creating an ever-expanding collection of faces – some of which are even added in to the room, changing the backdrop, evolving it as much as the changing code. If you want to add the experience of this exhibition (and I thoroughly recommend it) to your own brain blender then come and see it for yourself. It will be up in Bonington Gallery until the 20th of May.

Dominique Phizacklea

Fine Art Year 2

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