“Deep Screen” proposes an in-depth exploration of the screens that now people our lives. In ever-growing numbers, computers, smartphones and tablets constitute a filter that is starting to replace the glass doors of galleries and other museums, and modify our perception of contemporary art. The idea of continuous depth in the exhibition’s subtitle clearly echoes the spatial dimension of the featured works. The expression is also employed here as the opposite of superficiality and characterizes each of the pieces displayed in Parc Saint Léger. Far from trying to champion virtual visits, the immersive style of “Deep Screen” invites flesh-and- blood visitors to an exhibition experience that is completely of the physical world.

Since the border between the real and the virtual is increasingly porous, many artists today consider the internet, with its cycles, networks, fluids, pollution, folklore, and beliefs, as their new natural milieu. In this ecosystem, the majority of the artworks move about freely, unconstrained by lighting or how they are positioned on display, dehierarchized, “liked,” shared, occasionally imitated, and living out an uninhibited existence in their documented form.

Borrowing the display-case exhibit form from museums devoted to popular arts and traditions,* “Deep Screen” presents a certain view of art in 2015 through a glass screen. These giant vivariums make it possible to conserve works of art within their glass walls, preserve them from change, and of course show them off to advantage, raising their cultural value. “Encasing” the show and keeping visitors at a remove inevitably induces a certain critical distance vis-à-vis a digital practice that may already have a whiff of outmodedness or obsolescence.

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The diaramas can be seen as narrative collages blurring the borders between the natural world and an artificial arrangement, each one including works of different kinds posed before computer “wallpaper” designed by Owen Piper. Inside, a synthetic fantasized nature dreamed up by Piero Gilardi surrounds the postapocalyptic avatars created by Renaud Jerez and the display dummies sporting clothing from the Arcangel Surfware brand designed by the artist of the same name. The two latter artists, as well as Tilman Hornig, Marlie Mul, Anne de Vries, and Rachel de Joode, weave subtle ties with Post-Internet art** and demonstrate the attraction scientific phenomena, communication tools, flows, and organic materials exercise over a young generation of artists.

Some of them have chosen to pursue a manual practice inherited from traditional techniques that including ceramics, metal casting, and stone cutting. Jean-Marie Appriou, for example, poetically combines technical experiments with mythological references. Daniel Dewar & Gregory Gicquel engage in a very physical relationship with matter. Numerous handmade objects fashioned by Bastien Aubry & Dimitri Broquard, as well as Bevis Martin & Charlie Youle, evince an undisguised interest in experiencing classic, even ancestral techniques. Finally Hayley Tompkins’s practice is taking shape through painted everyday objects, symptomatic of a materialist excess.

We might see this collection of art works and objects from everyday life, along with the experimental methodology accompanying it, as a nonexhaustive ethnographic practice playing out at one and the same time in the thin layer of our smartphones’ screens and the depths of our memory.

“Deep Screen” sketches out the contours of a contemporary artistic folklore that is seizing on traditional techniques with the aim of taming new technologies. Laid out like a museum within a museum, the show proclaims its status as a laboratory,*** reducing the borders between a history of art in the process of being written and contemporary popular cultures.

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words / project by: Camille Le Houezec and Jocelyn Villemont


@ Parc Saint Léger, Centre d’art contemporain, Pougues-les-Eaux, France
March 14 – May 24, 2015