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Students Respond to Publishing Rooms

18 Jan 2016

Here is a selection of posts by students commenting on our exhibition Publishing Rooms.

Publishing Rooms opens in two weeks

As a photography student at NTU, it is great to see an escape from the stereotypical, orderly space of an art gallery. Through the use of projections, scanners and the ability to interact with the technology in the room (allowing you to feature in the work itself), the space becomes more of an installation over the course of the exhibition. Even with this mechanical process of mass publishing, there is something very intimate about the images produced from the body scans specifically, more so than a piece of art done by hand.

You could propose that this practice is a style of photography and a medium that I have not previously considered using as a student. However, after experimenting with the devices and seeing the results, it is something that I am looking forward to exploring further.

Just come and take a look for yourself!

Adidas or Nothing – Reece Straw

Self Expression ≡ Brand Dedication ≡ Identity ≡ Community

Image shows and Adidas trainer in a black sphere. Taken using one of the scanners in the publishing rooms exhibition.
Reece Shaw using the scanners to show a different perspective on the Adidas trainer.

Living in our post-internet world we are able to define our ‘unique’ identity though various outlets online and display them for the world to see: sharing an article of a cause close to us, an image of celebrity we admire, a piece of music. Not anything new by far, we have just exhibited ourselves on a smaller scale within a more immediate community before we had the technology to instantly share it with the world.

Interestingly, social media and branding has made us less original: we are pigeon-holed into ways of expression through proxies of design, the ‘sub-culture’ is dead. A ‘sub-culture’ brings people together of similar interests, a choice has to be made, the obvious being which side of the fence to sit on, dependant on which subject the community is built around e.g. Manchester United or Manchester City, loving or hating Kanye West, being a ‘Mod’ or a ‘Rocker’. This being an old model of society; black and white being the only way to define oneself, whereas the younger generations allow themselves to invest more in the grey area of this model to include themselves within multiple outlets without quarrel. The world is still catching up with this development as ‘sides’ do still exist and there is still something important about where our fundamental choices are made as they will define who we are, something to do with authenticity one expects as we value people who remain the ‘same’. Objects in the world now are very much culturally loaded and our immediate associations reveal the owners’ assumed interests and choices. And as all good evolution goes, as a species we buy into this as it benefits the development of community.

A classic example of this is the band t-shirt. It once meant that you were an avid fan of the band; if someone else was in the same band t-shirt you had an instant friend. But when a Guns ‘n’ Roses t-shirt is seen as a (low) fashion item in Topshop, the whole culture is boiled down into that single object, appropriated and removed by people who gauge it on the aesthetic alone or false inclusion by solely knowing ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ (as you can see, sides do still exist). Our inability to think that we can create something completely original due to our extended history of culture may be the reasoning for this endless recycling of culture. Just look at the current state of the film industry: endless superhero movies adapted from over 50 years of comic book characters from the 1940’s onward; reboots, remakes and re-releases (I’m looking at you, George Lucas). Even the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens is nostalgiagasm, trapped within itself and what its fans would only let it be or become.

On the flip side, the Adidas brand, who champion themselves on reinterpreting the past and being true to their roots doesn’t seem to have the same reputation as the re-releases of the original Star Wars trilogy. If anything, to see someone in the same shoes as yourself gives the indication that they ‘know what’s up’ or equally, you aren’t as original as you once thought you were. But that all depends on the choice that was made when purchasing the shoes: in personal preference or the idea that they in some way will change one’s presence.

The Adidas NMD in the image above, created using the technology in Publishing Rooms from Foxall Studio, is a rarity in today’s sneaker culture. To own these is to be recognised by those in the know, it brings the satisfaction of taming such a rare beast with resell values now double the price. Although nothing on the Yeezy Boost range it still means something culturally: these shoes are noticed, and not just for the 4 or 5 logos on the actual shoe.

So where does this leave us? In a world saturated with everything our choices are evermore important if we care about how people view us, because as insincere and shallow as it is, the reality of the situation is that if you aren’t ‘on fleek‘ in one way or another you may be passed by. This unfortunate event in society – only caring about surface value – is tragic, but you can’t deny that you have (at one point or another) judged someone at face value. It’s instinctive, and in my opinion benefits the development of society.

‘You’d be sick if you saw my Adidas collection…you would be physically sick if you saw it. I’m not gonna say where it is.’ 

Ian Brown
Not new, but new to me.

A Student review of our exhibition Publishing Rooms from a second year BA Fine Art Student, Dominique Phizacklea

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.