"Are you sitting comfortably”
NETTIE HORN is pleased to present the second solo exhibition by British artist Kim Rugg, featuring a new body of work which is inspired by her exploration into mass produced images and icon-carriers such as newspapers, stamps, museum postcards as well as within mass media technologies including television, the internet or social networks. Reflecting on the spread of consumerism through its products and technology, Rugg questions the power of the images, their representation as well as the way they promote a certain reality.
From analytic newspaper decipherments to postcard "re-masterisations" as well as the dematerialisation of digital and internet images, Rugg questions the impact and reliability of "hyperreality" – a notion that Jean Baudrillard develops in Simulacra and Simulation, in which he explains that this notion of hyperreality is "a symptom of the postmodern era caused by the increased infiltration of technology into the masses. As post industrial technology, particularly the mass media, becomes more integrated into our lives than ever before, the imitations of reality represented in these media come to be given more credibility than the realities they are intended to imitate".
Through a tenacious attention to detail, Rugg's newspaper pieces transgress conventional systems by obliterating what is conceived to be the important element: "the content". Deconstructed and rearranged according to new orders or text codes, the artist explores new codes of reading while maintaining the integrity of her subjects as objects. Rugg is interested in the evolution of language emerging from modern day technology - for example, the character restrictions generated by social networks, such as Twitter, inspired the translation of a front page of the Guardian into "text speak", a phonetic and shorthand method of writing. With this new series of newspaper pieces, Rugg questions the semantics and orthography of linguistics by using an object, which is, in essence a vehicle for a standardised and conformist use of the English language.
The overall definition of an artwork is defined by elements such as medium and format, which have sometimes been sacrificed when the artwork itself has been re-formated for "mass sharing" purposes. Few of us are lucky enough to travel to museums around the world to see original artworks, so we rely on catalogues or postcards to experience the works of the masters. Photographed and re-formated in order to be popularized, the art postcard conveniently reduces every artwork to fit into the same format - thus Guernica will appear to be the same size as Van Gogh's irises. Kim Rugg's postcard piece, "49 postcards" is a scaling up of the postcard back to the actual size of Van Gogh's "Wheat field with Cypresses" which can be seen at the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
From this reflexion on the impact of the media, a number of questions emerge relating to the influence of this phenomenon upon reality as well as their relationship. The evolution of the photojournalistic image for example is a current interest in Rugg's practice. Camera phones have made the medium more democratic and as a result photography has come closer to the action - witnesses also become participants in history. The work "Are you sitting comfortably" presents two images sourced from the internet, depicting scenes of recent historical revolts. Although poor in quality, these pictures were rapidly propelled around the world and the impact and realism of these images are a result of the photographer's closeness to the events taking place. The high pixilation of these images inspired Rugg to transfer them into tapestries, an ancient technique previously used to depict historical events such as battles and coronations. The tapestries representing these powerful images are presented onto re-upholstered furniture in order to hint back to the domestic setting where we are more commonly used to consuming them.