Arcadia Missa presents Harry Sanderson
Solid State: Sunlight

date_from 21/01 12/03/2016

For Harry Sanderson’s first solo exhibition in Brussels he will present works which are the culmination of a long period of research and development of both caustic imaging technology and the aesthetics and ideologies that permeate and inform the visual representation of techno-capitalism.

Art circles and parties have been stuffed with conversations that pronounce the fact of there being a dematerialised and constantly circulating digital image. The moment that these conversations are of any relevance is when the topic moves beyond assertions of (another) dematerialisation and onto understanding the material infrastructure of industrial exploitation that creates the intangible and consistently reproducible image.

A “caustic” in its use as a word in optics, means the rays of light reflected or refracted by an object or surface, and/or the projection of these rays onto something else/another surface. This concentration of light can burn (think of a magnifying glass harnessing light to burn a piece of paper), hence its description as “caustic” (to corrode).

By using caustics to fix a digital image onto a wall through an analogue CNC-milled plastic sculpture, Sanderson creates a moment of pause and recognition to material facts of the image’s genesis. This is furthered by the almost-impossibility of us, the viewer, capturing and circulating the image produced by the sculpture to a degree of likeness that we have come to presume to have to hand (when you try to photograph and Instagram the work, an image is created, yet it is not the image that your body stood in front of at the moment of capture).

These artworks are both sculptures and images, it is difficult to describe with language as the words presume certain differentiations that are not embodied here. For want of a better word we’ll call them sculptures. These sculptures inhabit the space between digital representation and physical form, as put by the artist, “a painful intermediary zone between a purely ideal imaginative space and the physical world digital representation models and simulates.”

Just as language presents problems of expression and representation around the artwork, the visual representation of digital infrastructures, systems and surfaces has continued to be impoverished so much so that representations both deliberately and unwittingly reinforce mantras of global capitalism. Often water, air, various nods to nature and evolution sit as metaphors in media and advertising for a digitally connected and accelerating world, a world where somehow the fact of connection is an equaliser or flattener to the incredible disparity between rich and poor, global north and south, post-Fordist and currently industrialising. We cannot see or represent a screen, it is a conduit for representations of something else. Just as the scope of language to define is limited, the scope of representation to enable Cognitive Mapping of a world whose governance and institutions are not only biopowerful but also digitised, is impoverished.

A concurrent feature of Sanderson’s work is to pull open the means of the work’s production. Harry Sanderson’s practice is about putting its labour at the forefront. Rather than the digital being a veil over the layers of work and imbalance such as it is used for within the type advertising researched by the artist, Sanderson instead uses digital technologies in his work to push into view the labour, the materiality, and thus the physical imprint and scarring inherent in the world we live in.


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