Long after his death, forensic photographer Luigi Tomellini has become an ‘artist’. Producer Stefano Amoretti and photographer Mino Tristovskij have put him in a book and a show.
This could not have happened had not his analogue photography lost its value as evidence gathering. The very obsolescence of the medium gives these documents a certain poetry.
No one could question the purpose of his vision, of the vision of a hardworking forensic snapper. Tomellini’s work has put criminals behind bars and served justice to the victims of crime. One hopes.
If poets are still the unacknowledged legislators of the world (unlikely), police photographers, CCTV directors and (at times) courtroom artists are the acknowledged prosecution.
But none of the prints in the show will make it to the situation room or the courthouse. It is Amoretti and Tristovskij who have latterly developed his vast collection of negatives.
Nearly 30 years ago, these negs were found in a rubbish bin in Genoa. But one man’s trash is often another man’s meat (especially if the other party in question are artistically inclined).
The duo behind Clue: Cold developed Tomellini’s output using a traditional emulsion technique, implicating themselves in the investigation of early 20th century crimes.
By way of an important footnote, the forces or law and order were using photography only a few years after the technique was invented. This began as far back as the 1840s.
One remembers that photography perhaps only has a minor history as an artform. Aesthetics comes in second to pragmatics. But this show turns that worldly fact of life on its head.
Clue: Cold can be seen at Gallery 71a, London, on 24 March 2016, before travelling to Treviso and Genoa in Italy.
How can one comment on a work of art based on an experience of no more than 10 minutes with it, when the entirety lasts an entire day? Well, the elevator pitch for Gordon’s film tells you enough.
This is the Alfred Hitchcock thriller Psycho (1960) slowed down from 24 frames a second to just two. It runs in slow mo, in silence, in glacial indifference to the fate of Marion Crane or Janet Leigh.
So Gordon’s film is somewhat more sadistic than the original. I caught up with it as Crane drives along Highway 99, nervously looking ahead, nervously checking the rear view, in a seeming loop.
We know she is speeding to her death, but she does so with minimal, staccato movements that let us study the appearance and behaviour of an archetype: the victim marked out by fate for a grisly end.
But she is herself a criminal, and so perhaps the film also does her a service, stretching the period of time between her theft of a client’s money and her demise at the hand of Norman Bates.
24 Hour Psycho is both generous and cruel. It torments the viewer with its impossible duration and at the same time promises us saturation with one of the most analysed movies of all time.
“It takes work, pious effort, to see what you are looking at,” so writes Don Delillo, whose 2010 novel Point Omega opens with a character who visits and revisits this piece, when it is at MoMA.
If encountered in the cinema, movies take very little pious effort. But Hitchcock manipulates his own creation to an even greater extent than this black and white monolith of video art.
IMDb is a goldmine where Psycho is concerned and we learn that the director used a 50mm lens to give his footage a voyeuristic immediacy. The 45 second shower scene uses 78 pieces of film.
So much has been written about Psycho and so much has been written about 24 Hour Psycho. But perhaps that is the ultimate comment from this slow procession of scenes. It is a kind of autopsy.
24 Hour Psycho can be seen in The Indivisible Present at Modern Art Oxford until at least March 22 and perhaps beyond, depending on how the year-long Kaleidoscope programme pans out.
The Instruction Manual by John Ashbery is a poem of some 74 lines, which mentions more than 30 colours. And these colours evoke Guadalajara, Mexico, a place the speaker hasn’t even seen.
But having said that, he pictures it well. His senses appear to have been sharpened by the deadline for a technical writing gig, and they soon take flight through an imaginary window.
Michael Craig-Martin is, in his turn, something of a technical illustrator who makes a lively escape into colour. Here you see a sherwood green adaptor with sunny yellow tines and a blood-red interior.
There is nothing naturalistic about this; it is as oneiric as the journey to Mexico in the poem we’ve already seen. But the pleasure is anchored in the familiar form of a travel appliance.
What is it about precision, in writing or draftsmanship, that sets off the imagination? Is it the fact that in both these disciplines, colour is proscribed, a banned and hallucinatory substance.
What with the smoke alarm. the memory stick and the hotel door handle (all of which feature alongside this adaptor), Craig-Martin never makes it out of his room. No en plein air for him.
And so, much of the show suggests the paraphernalia of travel, and this survey reads a little like the difficult third album of a rock band who only write about life on the road. I jest.
There is a case to call this pop art. And I think a more difficult case to compare it with photorealism. Certainly it shares some of the powers of observation, some of the decision making.
Craig-Martin talks about this with artist Liam Gillick. He plays down the role of invention in art, in favour of observation. Gillick meanwhile downgrades inspiration in favour of visual choices.
It is a fascinating discussion and well worth a look if you pick up the catalogue. If nothing else the beautiful 120 page book will give you something to cling to. Like a plug socket in Guadalajara.
Michael Craig-Martin: Transience can be seen at Serpentine Gallery, London, until February 14 2016.
As you may be aware, cinema therapy is a thing. For those with mental health problems such as depression or anxiety, a well-chosen movie is, some will argue, the perfect prescription.
But if you suffer from epilepsy, watching Ictus could be the worst ten minutes you ever spend. No spoilers here, but it’s clear from the get go that Doctor Khan has forgotten his Hippocratic oath.
Worse still, we are all cast as patient to this renegade, whose consulting room is lit by spooky candle, papered with vintage text books on the brain, and emblazoned with the flag of a rogue (?) nation.
The gist of it is this: we have come round from a seizure to find ourselves in the unlucky presence of a man whose sinister mask is enough to foreshadow the eventual end of our treatment.
Director Asheq Akhtar has pulled off two technical feats to bring us Dr Khan’s verbose diagnosis: candles provide the only lighting and it is filmed in just one take. Akhtar also plays the doctor.
Unwillingly, we play the patient. But do patients ever have a choice? And in allegorical terms, did the genocide victims in the 1971 Bangladesh War of Independence volunteer for their fates? No.
Khan’s namesake is Lieutenant-General Tikka Khan, also known as the Butcher of Bengal. So the script, which aligns this historic figure with the doctor from hell, is a further achievement.
The partition of India and Pakistan and subsequent division of Pakistan represent a too complicated narrative. But the mystical doctor in this piece demonstrates that simplicity can be brutal.
There is much in this complex film which eludes me: much conflict, much politics and many hatreds. But the flickering obscurity of this evil interlude is surely a theme unto itself.
In a coda, we view a massacre at Dhaka Uni through the grainy footage of a Western news outlet. the tiny figures a stark contrast to the larger than life Khan. He is closer to home, wherever that is for you.
There’s the painting you can see and the work of art you can only grasp in the mind: 96 panels that will soon make their way through the world’s postal networks and scatter the material object.
Shane Finan’s painting is a landscape jigsaw, where interiors and exteriors interrelate and a bridge connects the artist’s studio to the wider world and to the eventual destination of the piece.
Some 25 percent of the panels are sold. The sale ends Friday, at which point the artist will know how much his project has raised for peripatetic, non profit gallery Wandelbar Art International.
Never mind the transience of this art work, it is also pragmatic. In crowdfunding, it has a clear role, which is more than you can say for most art. We know contemporary art struggles with utility.
ADA stands for A Distributed Archipelago and, in Turkish, ada means island. Finan is interested in insularity, which, as he points out, has more to do with digital networking than you might think.
We are more connected than ever, but the quality of our online relations remains in question. Art, which generally requires your physical presence, might be the apotheosis of connection.
Perhaps that is why austerity governments value it so little. That makes archipelagoes a timely and potent image: a cluster of discrete entities joined up more closely than it seems at first.
Though we might only break the surface here and there, via text and telecommunications, we form a chain of continuous being to which we’ll only return once buried or scattered ourselves.
He doesn’t sound like an artist. Without a surname he sounds like a character from a child’s game. His paintings don’t look like paintings. They look like price tags.
But Numbers is a certainly a work of art. It undermines its own claim to genius, immateriality, aura and transcendence, so in this day and age it must be art.
The schtick is this. We the audience decide how much we may be willing to pay and then order one of Simon’s paintings. The result will come back, void of all extraneous detail but the price.
Of course, there are still decisions to be made. Should it be on canvas or board? Does a certain typeface lend itself to a certain amount? And what of a frame to enshrine your budget?
A comments box allows you to influence the specifications. In other words, Simon relinquishes all artistic control. He is subject to the hand of the market the way a shopkeeper might be.
The numbers have a twofold dimension. On the one hand they index your commission against all the other, more or less earnest examples of painting out there in the wider world.
On the other hand, they personalise the Numbers artwork. Perhaps a house number, a date of birth, even a phone number, each of these values becomes a portrait of the patron.
No single number can be ordered more than once, however. And just a word to the wise: £1 billion is already taken. Simon has bought that one for himself (although surely he’s open to offers).
Numbers is a neat critique of the market. It is not the first of its sort. But it may be one of the first to mash a crowdfunding dynamic together with an online auction.
Days ago I was reminded of Numbers when I saw this painting by Billy Apple at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. In the museum context it leaves you a bit queasy.
You too can feel this way for the price of your choosing at the Numbers website.