Thursday, 19 January 2012

The Death of Originality

 Is there anything left to be original about? Artists the world over seek out the holy grail that is originality in the belief that their particular vision will usurp anything that has gone before them. Yes you may argue that is a foolish thought in the beginning but it certainly doesn’t stop us. What has changed so drastically in recent history is that the ideas and inspirations that this wonderful world throws up have been distilled and packaged perfectly for us all to consume.

The WWW has effectively cut out all the long winded, laborious ways that we gather our information. People open up their hearts and their minds online  for us all to pick over. Is nothing sacred? Is there anything left out there that is unknown, intangible and so fantastically complicated that cannot be understood in the time it takes to press a button on your keyboard? Where are the small unformed ideas that generate the big ideas? Do they really exist anymore in this super-fast imagery laden culture of ours?

I started this train of thought after an idea I had ended up on the wall in my office. Coincidentally within a few days of pinning it up I came across an image created by Yes Studio and photographer Dan Holdsworth. It made me stop and wonder. I had never seen their finished concept before and the two of them were strikingly similar although theirs was created a couple of years ago. 

Image by Dan Holdsworth and Yes Studio

Ed Sykes image

Had I actually never seen that before or was it that in the massive deluge of images I view daily that it seeped into my sub-concious? The brain can only cope with so much in its conciousness and the rest gets stored away in the picture library in the mind. When as artists do we become saturated and overladen? Surely this is the extreme opposite of the work of isolated artists who die unknown after working theirr whole lives on one or two concepts only to be feted as the greatest years after their deaths?

Copying fashion, copying lifestyle, in fact copying anything has become big business and in our own ways we have become sucked into it - following trends, concepts and what has gone before us. If you want to be original do you have to unplug, disconnect and drop out? Leave the noise behind and create like a hermit? It seems to be successful I am going to have to buy a cave to work from. The problem is there aren’t any caves left in London. I could check online though…

Friday, 13 January 2012

Ataui Deng. Fashion story for Fiasco magazine

Photo by Ed Sykes

Photo by Ed Sykes

M. C. Escher. Pop Ups (Thames & Hudson)

Bond of Union by M.C.Escher
Pop Ups is essentially a 3D rendering of Eschers more famous creations. Marketed as a coffee table book it has a certain wow factor. Eschers work has been "brought to life" by a pop up technique. But why was I disappointed? Eschers drawings and woodcuts had a wonderful attention to detail and it was the flatness of the page or surface which actually made what he did so brilliant. He could give even more depth to a seemingly normal image but when the image has been made into a paper construction it somehow defeats the purpose. Sure it gives us a new way of looking at his work but it does feel gimmicky and with only 9 pop ups in the book it does feel less than generous. As an easy introduction to Escher's work it's fine but it actually feels like the essence and visual strength has been watered down.

Balcony by M.C.Escher

Another photo

Photo by Ed Sykes

Monday, 9 January 2012

Art Photography Now (Susan Bright) Thames & Hudson

Another recent addition to the bookshelf. I particularly like this book because of the photograph on the cover by Viviane Sassen entitled Flamboya:Victoria 2007. Sassens use of colour I find clean and refreshing and her work has a modernity that inspires. I have to say increasingly I find collections such as this frustrating in the way an artist is skimmed over where a monograph gives gives real depth and insight into a body of work. However they are good as an introduction to little known photographers and as a reference book. The photographs of Gregory Crewdson, Doug Aitken and James Welling appealed to me and led me to look further into their work.

CCCP Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed

One of the highlights of Christmas is receiving long wanted art books. This had been on my list for a long time and did not disappoint. It is a wonderful collection of photographs of Soviet era architecture the majority of which I have never seen. In stark contrast to the bland steel and glass of today here the spatial imagination has at times been given free reign. Frederic Chaubin's collection shows how architecture can be awe inspiring, powerful, dominating and thus a  reflection of a cultural and political will. The interiors are as exciting, with beautiful detail in some of the fittings, chandeliers, ceilings and wall coverings. Outside some constructions veer from the large scale functionality to stunning nature inspired abstraction.