“No Looking…” in London: Harry Sanderson’s “Unified Fabric”
I’m taking No Looking After the Internet on the road this month, hosting a special edition at London’s Arcadia_Missa gallery in conjunction with Harry Sanderson’s “Unified Fabric” project. Part installation, part render farm, part curated exhibition, Sanderson has brought together videos by Hito Steyerl, Clunie Reid, Melika Ngombe Kolongo and Daniella Russo, Maja Cule, Takeshi Shiomitsu—as well as a new work by Sanderson himself—that consider the human and material impact of digital image-making networks. Visually representing the labour practices of contemporary art is obviously something that’s been on my mind lately, as it has been for Sanderson, who wrote a compelling account of the material effects of supposedly immaterial digital processes in his great essay “Human Resolution” earlier this year. I’m excited to put an image (or series of images) into conversation with his project and to take the title of the looking group seriously, thinking out-loud about what it means to be a spectator within the conditions wrought by online image technologies.
(Big thanks are already due to Harry Sanderson, who has been a brilliant and engaging collaborator, and to Arcadia_Missa founders Rozsa Farkas and Tom Clark for their generosity in inviting me to field test the looking group in London. All three of them recently gave an interview on the project that’s worth a look.)
Harry Sanderson’s “Unified Fabric”
Tuesday, October 22
(Unit 6, Bellenden Road Business Centre, SE15 4RF)
No Looking After the Internet is a monthly “looking group” that invites participants to look at an image (or a series of images) they are unfamiliar with, and “read” the image out-loud together. Chosen in relation to an exhibition, an artist’s body of work, or an ongoing research project, the looking group focuses on how we engage with images that present a challenge to practices of looking. If these images ask the viewer to occupy the uneasy position of the witness or voyeur, No Looking offers the space and time to look at them in detail: to return to these scenes in another context where we can look at them slowly and unpack our responses to the image.
Premised on the idea that we don’t always trust our interpretive abilities as viewers, the aim of No Looking is to examine what makes the practice of looking difficult. How does a slower form of looking allow us to be self-reflexive about our role as spectators? How do we look at these images differently when we interpret them with a community of others?
No Looking is an ongoing project based out of Toronto’s Gallery TPW and takes its name and inspiration from No Reading After the Internet, an out-loud reading and discussion group that meets regularly in Toronto and Vancouver (http://noreadingaftertheinternet.wordpress.com/).
In dialogue with Harry Sanderson’s exhibition “Unified Fabric,” the October meeting of No Looking will examine images that attempt to visualize the labour conditions of digital image-making. While Sanderson’s project brings together works by several other artists in the context of a self-built render farm—a super computer comparable to those typically used for rendering Hollywood animations—to interrogate the material realities of digital technology, looking group will hone in on the complicated relationship between images and bodies. How do digital image technologies, often conceived of as immaterial and disembodied, impact our physical practices of producing and viewing images? Why is it so difficult to represent the conditions of labour that sustain these digital image-making practices? And what do digital images of distant subjects ask from us as spectators?