Category Archives: appropriation

Duncan Poulton, No Body (2015)

Mimesis, which has been doing the rounds in art since ancient Egypt, reaches a terminal point in this 15-minute film by recent graduate Duncan Poulton (what you see above is just a cut down version).

They may not be artists. It is hard to imagine them with such pretensions. But out there on the web are a small army of visualisers, who are to the imagined body what the camera is to yours or mine.

Poulton says that these renderings circulate online, where their creators vie with one another for ever greater levels of realism. So now, like Dr Frankenstein, he has appropriated these to make a narrative.

And indeed, it’s a creation myth, as a generic male figure develops an armour of muscles, a dextrous pair of hands and finally a soul, or at least a pair of dilating windows onto one.

In the final shot here, you’ll notice he’s clothed. Until then, he’s sexless. So even in a digital realm where you might think anything goes, we still have the fall and the subsequent physical shame.

Gamers already use avatars like these. But dare we hope that most of us will retain what David Foster Wallace calls, “a kind of retrograde transcendence of sci-fi-ish high-tech for its own sake”?

That’s from his novel Infinite Jest, in which the first generation of video callers buy into polybutylene resin masks and Transmittable Tableaux in order to deal with “vanity-related stress”.

Now, as this film demonstrates, we have the prospect of perfect hair, teeth and bodies for all our dealings online. That could be another fall from grace. In the meantime, we have a warning.

No Body appeared at Sluice Art Fair 2015, as part of group show ooooooooooooooo representing the gallery Division of Labour.

Shawn Huckins: Dorothy Quincy, Don’t You Realize That I Only Text You When I’m Drunk (2012)

This is a work of many layers, the earliest one being a portrait of Dorothy Quincy by American realist painter John Singleton Copley.

Quincy was the wife of the first man to sign the Declaration of Independence. So her portrait is also a slice of history, nevermind art history.

Shawn Huckins has reproduced this grave example of canvas-based nation building, using the poppier medium of acryllic rather than oil.

And the results gets fresher still as he overlays a frequently used piece of textspeak. This makes the 18th century piece of artwork look like a 21st century meme.

The words and acronyms float between ourselves and the subject. Just as the internet can bestow attitude to cats and owls, it can do the same for historic personages.

So viewed in a browser from the UK (owing to geographical limitations) Huckin’s work looks at first like a streetwise makeover for its targets.

But since poor Quincy would have had limited access to a mobile phone, it seems that upon reflection this apologia for drunken texting belongs to the artist.

And the title nails things down, addressing Quincy by name. Now the entire work can be seen as a drunken, and perhaps spurned, overture to realist portraiture.

In this work and others like it in the series, it is as if some crude textese is the only language the unrequited Huckins can find for his haughty subject.

Sure enough, the much maligned dialect of wired youth strips away the dignity and aspirations of America’s founding fathers. It lays pretension to waste.

The original portrait and the latter day texts call to one another across the lifespan of a empire that now appears to be coming to an end in rofls.

Work from Huckins’ American Revolution Revolution series can be seen in L2Kontemporary, Los Angeles, until August 18th. See his website or that of the gallery for more details.