Act Like a Lady re-creates notorious feminist pieces from the 1960’s and 70’s. Digitally editing and stripping away the genitals of the models posed the question ,' if women were free from their suggested gender defining qualities, could a new role or new gender be achieved?'. How would this role fit into society and how would it affect the gender hierarchy?

The process of editing Act Like Lady and the concept behind it shed new light on the potential of the digital image to manipulate perception. There is a general trust in contemporary society of jpegs presenting us with something that is 'real' when in fact it just a collection of pixels representing something real. This gap between reality, the representation of reality and the creation of a hypothetical reality is what motivates the work following on from this piece.

The Mongolisk and Baby crying while teapot is desaturated, as performative video installations, provide the setting for social experiments that exercise the cognitive process of perceiving image and the expectations of familiar image. The practice reconditions the functionality of image subsequently plunging it into a space of hyperreality. It considers the existence of the digital image, and emphasizes the jpeg as an institution that essentially writes its own immateriality. A coherent theme motivating the work is the philosophy of the 'simulacrum' introduced in Plato's dialogue Sophist and revisited frequently by artists and philosophers. Plato distinguished the copy from the original by stating, “a likeness of anything is made by producing a copy which is executed according to the proportions of the original, similar in length and breadth and depth, each thing receiving also its appropriate colour.” He further claimed that artists were mimics who imitated reality through their paintings and that the copy was inferior to the original as the copy stood as a deception of reality.

The current practice, particularly Baby crying while teapot is desaturated, develops the two perceptions of simulacrum(the copy of the copy) put forward by Jean Baudrillard and Giles Deleuze, by creating opportunities for the cognitive state of hyperrealism to manifest. Baudrillard claimed that, “It is no longer a question of a false representation of reality (ideology) but of concealing the fact that the real is no longer real”, Simulacra and Simulation. Deleuze supports this impression of the simulacrum as a series of superficial connotations communicating the extinction of the original reality it is copied from and develops it to claim that this extinction is evident because the simulation of the original is so perfect that one can no longer locate where or what the original is.

The concept of the 'original' in regards to the digital image is an indefinite battle as, in the very act of visualizing a digital image we are only emphasizing the invisibility of the original. However the invisibility of the original does not suggest that there is not an original to become invisible. A digital image is made up of codes that eventually communicate an image to be visualized but these codes are fated to become an interpretation or, as Boris Groys likes to call it, a 'performance' as every mode it is communicated in, be it computer or iphone, will interpret it differently. It becomes impossible to compare a definite original to any interpretation and it is here that the space for manipulation of reality, explored in The Mongolisk, Baby crying while teapot is desaturated, uwillu and WeSellHay, is created.

The jpeg's dependancy on code to manifest as something visual brings the relationship between text and image, as discourses in art, closer together. The relation of text to image is a theme that is explored in the majority of the work. WeSellHay links the traditions of representational art to the semiotics and language of internet marketing. In a similar fashion to Baby crying while teapot is desaturated and Mongolisk, it plays with the public's trust in the digital image to represent something real. uwillu manipulates this trust by creating an environment of sensory deprivation disorientating the audience. It emphasises the human being's dependancy on familiar words and images to be conscious of reality and therefore of oneself. The work goes further to create an inexplicable new type of reality, a hyperreality, if the audience chooses to embrace it.

 

 

Bethan Arundel ©