Thursday, 20 September 2007

Creation vs Reproduction...every time we press the printer’s button, original art suffers a little...

In our first year of life, we had an exhibition with the work of Jane Mitchell in Glasgow.
Her detailed leaves and cheerful floral motifs are, surprisingly, inspired by her stay in Chernobyl and the aftermath of the nuclear catastrophe. The main idea behind this collection of work was that of contamination and how it can hide in nature and stay unnoticed for a long time. Jane is not the only artist who has found destruction and desolation to be a source of inspiration. I was for some time, very absorbed in the work of Anton Chejov and I read in an introduction to his work that he often found his voice in the vast, deserted landscapes of the Russian steppe. A strange coincidence that extends to the precision and detail achieved by images and words, respectively, in both of them.

Study for Afterglow No.2
Gouache on paper
Image size: 12 x 17cm

Jane's work inspired this write-up.

"The effects of technology do not occur at the level of opinions or concepts, but alter sense ratios or patterns of perception steadily and without any resistance".
Marshall McLuhan
Understanding Media, 1964

Do the latest digital and media technologies contribute to the diffusion of art, or, on the contrary, undermine its value…?
In the “global village” anticipated by sociologists as a result of the widespread use of Internet, mass media and IT technologies, the value of symbols, icons, marks and brands depends greatly on their distribution, recognition and reproduction as part of a universal language, as opposed to traditional values of exclusivity
and privacy.
Some believe that the very same technologies that allow us to photograph, copy, reproduce or distribute visual images with a gadget as simple as a camera phone, have contributed to the blurring of the boundaries between creation and reproduction.
No work is purely original and, as Dali recognised “Those who do not want to imitate anything, create nothing”. But there is still something unique about an original piece of art, despite the multiple inspirations and motivations behind its creation. There is something that can’t be easily duplicated with the click of a mouse. It is there, in the canvas or board.
We are bombarded daily with digitised images that play within the boundaries between art and technology. The current dominant aesthetic has a graphic appeal that undermines the distinction between artistic and mass produced and increases a perception of immediacy and speed that often camouflages the actual amount of effort, technique and creativity invested in the final piece. Jane Mitchell’s work is an example of this. Her paintings, whose extremely detailed, free-hand drawn leaves and branches resemble however some exotic and elegant mass-produced wall coverings produced using the latest printing technology.
This is one of the trickiest obstacles for artists who move within the contemporary aesthetics of a global, digitised world but remain loyal to the sensitivity, patience and craftsmanship of the classics.

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