Monday, 29 March 2010

Digitally Remastered!


Paul Laidler, Is it a game, or is it real, Unlimited (Hardback & soft cover versions), Produced through

The book work Is it a game, or is it real is a reinterpretation of David Bischoff's War Games. In this instances a remake of the Penguin book that uses the film adaptation of Bischoff's novel as the cover image. The visual reference of the film as a printed cover image is employed by publishers as marketing tool to sell more copies of adapted novels. Marcella Edwards, senior commissioning editor at Penguin Classics sees the film’s influence as a way to tap into new markets. The film image appears to make some classic texts more approachable for these new audiences. Edwards describes this phenomena where the text “becomes less classic, less difficult. You don’t need a PhD to read this stuff - it’s readable". Here the novels text is proceeded by its cinematic cover image a reinterpretation that for many becomes the original, diluting any beginning or end - and somewhat ironically, a reality made out of fiction.

Here the reinterpretation/remake foreground's the digitized theme of the novel, period and production process. Firstly the work presents the digital pixel aesthetic of the 1980's although in this instance the digitization is not screen based but instead simulated by printed dots that construct the appearance of pixels. For instances the book work Is it a game, or is it real is a digitally recorded version of the (1983 Penguin) publication although the transition from physical to digital becomes pronounced through the flatbed scanning of the books three dimensional form and the pixellated appearance of both text and image. The book has been recorded using the different resolution sizes of 12, 32, 42 and 52 ppi (pixels per inch). These resolution settings assigned to the recording of the book are purposely set below the standard amount of pixel information required for reading digital images on screen (72ppi) and in print (300ppi). 

I might add that when using automated POD facilities for producing work, low resolution preference generally sit outside of the systems approved optimum print settings. Subsequently the 'computer says no' the system breaks down and you need to convince a human directly (via the online help desk) that you want pixelation.

Is it a game, or is it real? by Laidler
To purchase signed copies contact the artist directly

As well as the physical, printed edition of the book, the Blurb facility also offers a virtual rendering of the book format that can be considered as a digital edition in the truest sense. The electronic format otherwise known as an e-book, allows the user to view the on screen flipping of pages as animated actions that refer to the experience of its physical counterpart. Although the e-book phenomenon engages with the dynamic potential of the Internet and allows publishers to reduce publishing costs, it does not currently provide the best reading experience to the customer.

The pixellated appearance of Is it a game or is it real? as an e-book initially makes the viewer question the technology as a reliable tool for reading digitised information. Viewed on screen the image appears to have become corrupted, or the correct resolution setting has not been assigned to the digital file. The assumption that the e-book is not a true representation of the printed version is re-addressed once seen in conjunction with the printed, signed edition. As an artist’s book, the signature confirms the intentions for the final printed results and the subsequent reading of the physical work as an 'unsophisticated' e-book facsimile. In one sense, the book fails to function before the concept reveals the object’s primary function as an artwork that appropriates the formal designs of the book format.

The appropriation and function distinctions resonate with Michael Craig-Martin’s thinking of real objects as if they were art. Here Craig-Martin considers utilising the characteristics of objects rather than the Duchampian idea of art by nomination, “The defining aspect of an object is what it is used for e.g. scale, material, look – using their functionality as a device to make art from.” (Cork, Michael Craig-Martin, p. 43.) However, the resulting book as an art object is not in the strictest sense a direct appropriation of a previously existing object. The work is an appropriation of an object’s function that is conceived and realised in conjunction with the object’s associated on screen presence. 

And finally, like the film/novel the artist book has distopian undercurrents concerning digital technology and our trust in its utopian design. The POD facility Blurb highlights the relative ease with which one can copy, reproduce, store and send digitized imagery/objects without any concern for origins or authenticity. Further more the rapidity with which this technology moves raises archiving issues concerning the compatibility and 'readibility' of digital information between old and new software. Data is either lost or interpolated - are we preserving the past or distorting it?

Is it a game, or is it real fuses past, present, text, image, fact and fiction as an artwork that is interpreted through its mediation. Subsequently the work invokes a self-conscious presence, perhaps referencing Bischoff's vision of computer consciousness. Also see Edges of a Hardcore for further usage of the pixel aesthetic and ISSUU (an alternative e-publication platform) utilised for a digital Panorama workshop.

Is it a game, or is it real is in the artist book collection at the V&A

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Stretch out with your feelings

P. Laidler, Stretch out with your feelings, 2009, Laser Engraving

The orb image depicted in the photograph above has been burnt with a laser into the surface of a black heavy weight cotton based paper. The laser engraved orb image in the paper is a ‘Jedi training remote’ from the film Star Wars. In this instance the training remote image is only visible because of the resulting topography that is burnt (by the laser) into the depth of the paper. Therefore the orb image is described by angle, light and the papers darker fibers that sit beneath the (slightly lighter black) paper surface.

Form follows Fiction:
Upon our first encounter with the ‘Jedi training remote’ (in the film) we find Skywalker struggling to focus his Jedi abilities during the laser training exercise. There after it is decided that Skywalker should be blinded allowing the force to guide his actions instead of his eyesight or to 'let go of his conscious self'. Now blinded by 'the blast shield' Luke sees nothing except darkness (black paper) by using the force Luke is able to render the objects image in his mind (the image on the black paper). Although in his minds eye the object is devoid of physicality yet Skywalker has the ability to sense the training remotes presence in a space (the laser cut depth within the flat space of the paper). The realisation that the Jedi training remote is essentially both image and object creates a sense of mystery around the works visual presence - perhaps drawing further parallels with the order of the Jedi Knight!
Stretch out with your feelings is part of a continuing fascination with oscillations between image and object and fact and fiction. Subsequently I have an interest in film props and replicas where our associations with these objects are generally through their ‘on screen’ image presence. In this context film props are essentially objects that are preceded by their image, they are able to traverse fiction and reality when we consider that fact that they are 'real fictional' objects.
Stretch out with your feelings was conceived around the idea of creating a 'real fiction' where a physical object (an artwork) would be literally formed by some aspect of its fictional reference. In this instance the laser technology was used to initiate the traversing between fiction and reality. Here laser cutting technology refers to both the Jedi remotes fictional function (shooting lasers at Skywalker) and the actual technological process that renders the Jedi training remote visible in Stretch out with your feelings. The self-referential play around the idea of creating real fictions also has a resonance with the rapid advancement in science and computing industries. What was once thought to be only possible in science fiction is now becoming 'science faction'.
The work was included in The International Experimental Engraving Biennial 2011. See IEEB4 catalogue and video of the work installed at the IEEB4 Exhibition, Brancovan Palaces Cultural Center, Romainia.