Questions in response to [Lucy Soutter, “The Collapsed Archive: Idris Khan,” review of Idris Khan at Victoria Miro Gallery, London, Source, no. 49 (Winter 2006): 46-47.]
The biggest problem that I have with this reading, is that it references a visual subject matter that I’m not able to view right there. A review surmises a familiarity with a subject. Googling the artist is only slightly more enlightening, showing his profile at the Saatchi Gallery, Wikipedia article and, under images, an assortment of his work and photos of him.
The summary from Wikipedia helps slightly, as it words exactly what he’s doing in a way that makes slightly more sense than the review article by Ms. Soutter, stating:
His work comprises digital photographs that superimpose iconic text or image sets into a single frame (for instance, every page of the Qur’an, every Beethoven sonata, every William Turner postcard from Tate Britain), or every Bernd and Hilla Becher spherical gasholder
While the review did mention this, I suppose I just wasn’t properly making the connection.
Further still, I looked at the following paragraph on an article posted to the website PhotoSlaves:
Idris Khan creates multi-layered photos, often of appropriated art and books, in a way that both augments the aura of the original and reveals the idiosyncratic trace of his own hand. Khan’s work explores the history of photography and literature, the beauty of repetition and the anxieties of authorship. “it’s obviously not about re-photographing the photographs to make exact copies, but to intervene and bring a spectrum of feelings – warmth, humour, anxiety – to what might otherwise be considered cool aloof image. You can see the illusion of my hand in the layering. It looks like a drawing. It’s not systematic or uniform. The opacity of every layer is a different fallible, human decision”.
Armed with these two summaries, I looked over the pieces that were shown on the Saatchi Gallery site a second time, and began re-reading Ms. Soutter’s review.
Not knowing much about platinum printing, the following paragraph meant very little to me, and stood out as something I would like to understand better:
It was a brilliant move to make a set of works layering the serial images from Eadweard Muybridge’s Human and Animal Locomotion –the resulting compositions are striking, dynamic. But it seems illogical to have used platinum printing, known for its luscious grey tones, to reproduce the half tone dots of the original book. In this context, platinum serves as a gratuitous signifier of Art Photography and of value for value’s sake.
What does it mean, in particular, the last sentence; how is platinum a “gratuitous signifier of Art Photography?” I should know more about these things, being a photographer & having a major concentration in photography, but I don’t. Maybe it’s something I should look in to when I have free time.
Other things and questions that occured to me while reading:
Upon beginning the article, I noticed immediately that this was an article about appropriation. With the advent of the creative commons license, more and more digital artists are opening themselves up to unintended collaborative works. However, since the advent of appropriation, these unintended collaborative works have existed. When is it “appropriation” and when is it “intellectual property theft” or “copyright infringement” ?
This is incredibly important to me in a variety of ways
- as an artist who has worked with digital manipulation & coloring
- as a photographer
- as a for-profit professional
- as a writer
- as a writer of fan fiction
- as an icon maker
Is there a difference between appropriation and “creating derivative works” ?