Andrew Super, World Trade Center Attack (2012)
CFPR Editions is currently undergoing a collaborative print production with the artist Andrew Super, who's work explores mediated avenues of viewership. From a philosophical stand point the artist explains that his work is grounded in an exploration of time, specifically how little bits of time come to be understood as personal, cultural, or historical moments. His photographic and print based works take extended periods of time, well beyond what could be understood singularly as moments, and compress them into singular images through the mediating forces of either the camera or Photoshop. The resulting images question the very momentous nature of the subjects, allowing viewers the opportunity to explore an event in a significantly different fashion.
Andrew Super is an American artist, currently living and working in the UK. He holds degrees in studio art and photography, and is pursuing a PhD at the University of Wales, Newport. For further examples of Andrew's work you can visit his website www.andrewsuper.com
Andrew talks further about the ideas behind this work below:
This work is conceptually grounded in, of all things, a lecture repeatedly given by Henry David Thoreau starting in 1851 entitled Walking. The lecture, a proto-romantic dialectic about man’s relationship with nature at the end of the industrial revolution, seems contemporarily prescient. Thoreau spoke of man’s general inability to engage with the world around him in a personal way, constantly observing nature but hardly ever engaging with it. Likewise, as we further relegate our experience with the world to digital realms, I am troubled by a similar sense of disengagement. In the same manner that romantic artists searched for a way to visually cope with the ever-increasing rationalisation of the world, I am similarly exploring the digital landscape of video-centric territories of the internet, like YouTube and LiveLeak, searching for a mediated sublime. The video sources for these images directly evoke the sublime, with their subjects inherently being recordings of personal, social, or cultural violence. When viewed via an embedded media player on a website, the graphic nature of the videos is particularly present – they are almost all amateur recordings with cheap equipment, shot in the midst of action as opposed to the distanced and dispassionate observation of documentary.
For example, in a gritty and violent way we can view some of the final moments of former Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi.
Once uploaded to the web the video recordings become incredibly democratised and, ultimately, legitimised by the nature of where they are presented. As videos rack up views, likes and dislikes, and multiple pages of comment threads, they gain social importance in a manner that was once doled out by journalists and historians. While the tangential data affixes itself to the videos and alters their historical presence, the original content becomes altered, skewed, and muddied. This work captures the content of these videos removed from the context of their analytics, second by second, and focuses it through an entirely different set of lenses. The videos become relegated back to pure imagery, historically similar to traditional film being comprised of a multitude of static images. These individual images are layered together and mathematically averaged to create a single image, technically encapsulating the entire content of the source. While the entire content of the video is present in the image, the amalgamating process by which it is constructed removes entirely the graphic (in both the denotative sense of the image producing a clear picture and the connotative sense of the image illustrating violent action) and historic origins of the source.
What is left is a cloudy, abstract field of softened colours, devoid of representation. The process of observation has been mediated from direct point of contact to videographic documentation, to internet compression, to digital remediation via Photoshop, to direct point of contact with a static, printed image. What began as terrifying documentation of event has been translated into tranquilising illustration of idea.
Andrew Super, Death of Gaddafi (2012)
This work relies heavily upon various methods of mediation and remediation to produce final products. Photography and video are intrinsically linked, but often difficult to reconcile as the photograph is viewed as not presenting enough (i.e. it only illustrates that one point in time) while the video is viewed as presenting too much (i.e. it generally prohibits certain moments from having more visual power than others). For all of their artistic merits, these mediums are intrinsically tied to an idea of reality, as they are, by their nature, methods of recording. This work removes itself from a sense of observation or record by translating video into photographic image, and then further translating photographic image into the purely abstract.
A cogent and graphic example illustrative of the power of photographs depicting moments in such a way is in Nick Ut’s 1972 Pulitzer Prize winning image of Phan Thi Kim Phúc running out of the mist of a napalm bombing, which can be viewed and read about here.
Once the images no longer refer to a reality (or to a thing) they are free to be purely about idea in a way that the video and the photograph struggle to be. Once the images are printed, they exist within a cultural conversation about art and its historical contexts, free of the socio-cultural contexts of the source videos. The images become things in their own right as prints, and allow viewers to cope with them as objects in a way that is significantly more difficult with video and photographic works.
Andrew Super, Napalm Girl (2012)
Even though the subject matter of the images is not pictorially referenced on paper, the digital origins of the sources maintain a dictating force in the physical manifestation of the prints. As the photographic image capture takes place on screen, with a low resolution, the prints mirror their foundation, being output at the exact dimensions and resolution of the capture.
Artist Andrew Super print proofing at the Centre for Fine Print Research 2012
Currently the work is undergoing output tests to determine the method most appropriate to make physical the imagined (meaning that the images, until printed, are intangible manifestations of an idea).