Western photographers in the early 1980’s effectively pioneered the ‘wall photograph’, the photographic image that could be witnessed at the level of a painting. This tradition grew out of the practices of such artists as Jeff Wall and Sherrie Levine, and became adopted by later artists such as Gregory Crewdson and Candida Hofer. The photographs were to be considered as just that, images on paper, and were to be critiqued at the level of their material and spatial properties, much like a painting.
This tradition has now been further adopted by many contemporary eastern artists, the example here being that of Chinese artist Chen Wei.
Chen’s images have the feel of theater spaces, often boxed in with a figure enacting some kind of domestic performance inside. He allows very little space for the viewer, pushing objects forward and therefore energising their relative position to the onlooker.
Much like Hofer’s work, Chen’s images are taken from a fairly logical and formulaic position. Perspective is marked out by lines that correspond symmetrically, effectively dividing space into rigid areas of happening and non-happening.
However, what really defines Chen’s images are his play on the fantastical. Pictures like ‘A Foggy Afternoon’, 2011, (above) demonstrate his fascination with Chinese folk tales, literature and memories of childhood. The absurdity of these events reminds me of Jeff Wall’s Dead Troops Talk. Wall’s image depicts an absurd, comical and vaguely sinister spectacle involving various mutilated soldiers raised from the dead and conscious of their predicament. As much as the drama and interplay amongst characters draws in the gaze of the viewer, it is the composition of the space itself that makes the picture so fascinating. Depicted in a crater in what appears to be First World War France, the space is cut off from any extensive sense of depth. Thus, we read the image at its surface, much as we now read pantings, such that characters are revealed as forms on a flat panel. This flattening of space is evocative of the Cezannian project 100 years ago, and therefore injects the photograph with an engaged critique traditionally reserved for painting.
Chen Wei’s photographs do not engage with western traditions of pictorial critique in painting to the extent that Wall does, but this is only expected of any emerging artists from areas, like China, removed from such art historical narratives (albeit with their own narratives to engage with).
Of course, to fully understand how Chen’s images are uniquely applicable to a Chinese/East Asian context would be to understand the cultures and historical narratives in question. But what can we gather from looking at his images while divorced from any real sense of wider cultural awareness?
Recurring themes tend be dark, dingy spaces, inhabited by either a single figure or nobody at all. A sense of confinement and personification of objects brings the viewer into a partial fantasy world. Chen doesn’t give too much away, they are certainly more poetic than dogmatic. But there is certainly a feeling of something having been lost, or an element of transition occuring. Reflections on a changing China? Where is the natural light and open spaces? It’s as if these are the spaces where people both live and dream, the dreams emerging and held captive within these tiny boxes. I can only make assumptions, but it is as if Chen is depicting the true face of contemporary China, a nation of dreamers, locked into frustrated spaces of capativity and tradition.
The problem with looking at a photograph of a painting and, even more so, a backlit online image of a painting is that the aesthetics and way we read the paintings are fundamentally changed. This may seem an obvious statement, but it’s only when you try and recall certain nuances of an experience had with a painting that this idea really comes into effect.
Rest on the Flight from Egypt, 1570-3
Federico Barocci’s ‘Madonna of the Cat’ and ‘Rest on the Flight from Egypt’ have a highly photographic feel about them. The soft lighting and interesting spatial play between characters makes them highly beautiful and complex paintings. Looking at them at the National Gallery’s current eponymous exhibition, it felt as if I were looking through a sort of photographic web, whereby objects would fall in and out of focus without real spatial structure. Whereas the lighting and form of the early Baroque artist’s faces would remain constant and blurred, other objects, such as a bird in the former, appear more rigid, and somehow slightly out of place.
Online, the compositions becomes more total, and spatial depth becomes somehow more formulaic and perhaps, ironically, more real. I want to get lost in the paintwork, the obscure proportions and depths that make me admire the artist’s work and feel inspired. Unfortunately, this is lost when seen out of context.
But the exhibition proved insightful and surprising. Barocci of Urbino was clearly an admirer of predecessors Da Vinci, Perugino, Raphael and the Venetians Giorgione and Veronese, each of whose depictions of gentle figures, naturalism, radiant light and grounded compositions are evident also in his early works. But perhaps also of Caravaggio, his contemporary, whose emphasis on strong contrasting levels of light, chiaroscuro, is very much apparent in Barocci’s later works.
I would note, however, that as the artist aged, and the commissions became grander and more complex, Barocci struggles to convince that he is up there with the great Renaissance masters of composition in Leonardo and Raphael. Figures sometimes appear unnecessary or out of place, and the scenery becomes a little too formulaic, exceptions of this being his great ‘Last Supper’ and smaller ‘Saint Francis’.
Barocci excels instead in his wealth of preparatory sketches and smaller paintings. Much like Rembrandt a few decades later, the Italian preferred to capture the more intimate and delicate moments, giving them a sense of life and empathy perhaps lost in the larger commissions. Sketches of hands and feet are done with a highly gentle slide of the pencil and brush and dab of the thumb, and the paintings are seemingly looser and more expressive.
I first came across the Bangladeshi photographer after an article was recently published about him in the BJP. His latest series, Desperate Urbanisation, is a beautifully composed visual analysis of the decaying state of the Buriganga River, with the development of nearby Dhaka City.
The images are essentially landscape focused, depicting smokey, polluted river scenes, and the bare life that clings to them. The clouded aesthetic helps the images to paradoxically look both beautiful and dirty, but the overwhelming feeling I get is one of calm, and muteness. Sand whips in from the riverbanks, blurring further the landscape, while desaturating the colours. People are reduced to mere specks and become their own architecture, losing their identity and falling away in, and with, the land they inhabit.
There’s a quiet desperation about the images. Chowdhury clearly cares for this landscape, and there is certainly an element of nostalgia and longing present. As the photographs fade, perhaps so does his, and others’, memories of the glorious past of the Buriganga, a river that the photographer claims would once ‘give us hopes and dreams to make a new City’.
It is therefore no surprise that he recently won the Ian Parry scholarship that has significantly raised the photographer’s international profile.
But nevertheless, Desperate Urbanisation is a highly melancholic series, full of nostalgia and potential, unfulfilled, hope, but also, as the name suggests, resigned and utterly desperate. Perhaps even, as a documentary photographer, there is the sense that just by capturing these images he is able to somehow intervene. Yet it is a futile act, and Chowdhury’s clouded images emphasise the distance between reality and dream.
As an intern at an art gallery in Central London, I am continually required to sift through hundreds of seemingly identical printed images, looking for a singular artwork entitled Concetto Spaziole, Attesa (1960-65), amidst 40 to ….4,000 gridded pages of other Fontana works that appear and are entitled almost exactly the same. Aside from lethargic intentions of self-mutilation, most likely inspired by the butchered portfolio of canvases before my sterilized and lifeless eyes, I began to wonder why the ‘great’ Italian painter-sculptor-artist of the post-war era would spend in the region of twenty years slashing canvases, achieving little to no formal progression in his practice, and to what extent this emphasis on repetition and serialisation of production is reflective of a wider historical disposition amongst cultural producers.
Fontana was, of course, working at a time when artists’ negotiations with mass production and serialisation were at their most visible; with Warhol’s Marilyns exemplifying such. New innovations in technologies such as television, and the explosion of media output in the form of large-scale coloured bill-board posters would inspire a generation of artists including Lichtenstein, Rauschenberg and Stella to parody the mass media and critique the autonomous and unique object, accusing it of illusionism and intellectual deception. Minimalism’s austere response to these parodies a decade later would use repetition as a means to further critique the mass media and the art-establishment through a reductive serialisation of art making that, by removing the spectacle of the media image, could supposedly expose its vacuous and deceptive skeleton.
Iconoclasm of this sort seems to have become rather tired and perhaps redundant in the 21st Century. Lichtenstein’s comic book parodies now sell for £25 as prints on t-shirts at the Tate’s current Retrospective; while Warhol’s whole output is now non-negotiable as a pertinent cultural critique as it sells for nothing less than multiple digit prices at global auction houses (making each work somehow unique at the level of economic and conceptual value). However, repetition has proved an effective and malleable means of expression amongst cultural producers throughout the ages, and today the repeated image or object can be used as a weapon or political statement to reveal and address certain modalities of contemporary existence; from Jamie McCartney’s repeated Vagina series of plaster-casts, exposing and potentially pacifying women’s’ insecurities about their bodies, to Trevor Paglen’s Black Sites, that uses photographic serialisation of subject matter, as opposed to form, as a way of exposure beyond the singular image, in this case revealing the CIA’s secret prison camps in Afghanistan.
Repetition is a way of ritual that gives order and purpose to the chaos and incomprehensibility of existence, and which finds its most pertinent form in religious practice and doctrine. There is thus something of the metaphysical about the act of repetition, something almost divinely inspired about it that transcends all concepts of space and time. Rothko’s whole output seems to have been effective repetitions, or translations, of previous works, and subsequently he seems to have been projected with this almost prophetic grace; the Rothko Chapel, Houston, seems to have been foundered on this idea of the painter’s celestial stimulations.
Changes in European and Middle Eastern visual culture have noticeably reflected changing attitudes to Religious doctrine since the fall of the Roman Empire (and of course before). The 8th Century AD saw a great iconoclastic period in which the Church’s misgivings towards depictions of important religious figures meant for a suppression of all forms of idolatry, seeing them as a corruption of, and human interference with, the ‘true’ image and message of Christ. Worshippers were instead presented with relics and non-idolatrous objects that could be used as empowering agents for direct communication with the heavens. Church rules did, however, begin to relax, and soon relics were accompanied by images of the worshipped, such to be used as an index in the comprehension of Christ in ritual prayer. These images could be paintings that adorn the boxes housing sacred objects, or as altarpieces. The Church imposed strict controls on exactly who could be painted, and how they should be depicted. Thus, repetition played an immensely important role in the developments of Western painting for roughly 500 years, making very few formal altercations until the mid-late 13th Century. The repeated images were a sort of reflection of the unwavering and perpetual presence that the Church wished to think of and portray itself. Limiting self-expression through absolute control was an effective way of maintaining power, and it is interesting to note that at the moment of art’s most emphatic deviation from repetition in visual culture, the Renaissance, we also, and not by chance, witness the most definite fragmentation of the Church’s authority, the Reformation.
Repetition therefore has a long and diverse history in visual culture. Looking at Lucio Fontana’s endless series of Concetto Spaziole, Attesa, I wonder whether what I see is something divinely inspired, a parody of visual culture, or something far more politically and morally engaged. Perhaps, even, Fontana merely found a market for his butchery and, like Hirst, has been able to exploit it for all its worth. If it is the latter, then self-mutilation doesn’t seem like such a bad idea after all!
I am continuing to read Alexander Nagel’s recently published ‘Medieval Modern’, a book that offers an exciting and intuitive attempt to form bonds and relationships between artworks and architecture from a range of historical ‘periods’.
The book makes an interesting connection between Michelangelo’s Medici Chapel, Florence, and Dan Flavin’s Light Installations at the Green Gallery in the 1970’s. Nagel’s argument was that, although superficially the two spaces could hardly be further apart, they both adhere towards a similar aesthetic purpose.
Dan Flavin’s light sculptures are an attempt to break the modernist tradition of the autonomous work of art, casting away all notions of ‘otherness’ and the artist-genius’s hand. Flavin could see the hypocrisy and elitism in certain works of abstract expressionism. Instead, his light sculptures are both the artwork at hand, but also the environment within which the viewer experiences the work. Thus, when one enters the exhibition space, it is not merely the fluorescent tubes that one must attempt to appreciate and experience, but the environment from which the tubes are subject to being witnessed. Flavin’s insight was to develop the actual space for the ritual of art viewing as the artwork itself, thus opening-out the exhibition space and objectifying the viewer him/herself as a part of, or player within, the art experience.
In 1519, Michelangelo was commissioned by Cardinal Giulio de Medici and Pope Leo X to begin work on a new sacristy for the burial of the ruling Medici family of Florence. The sacristy was to be an extension of the ancient church of San Lorenzo, within which the family’s founder, Giovanni di Bicci Medici and the sculptor Donatello are both housed. Michelangelo, a dozen years after the completion of his David, a great symbol of the Florentine Republic before the reinstatement of the house of Medici, was the only real candidate for the commission given his overwhelming reputation and popularity across central Italy. What he designed was a space that broke away from all contemporary forms of architectural design. Michelangelo’s was a capsule that would transport both the minds and the visceral bodies of worshippers up into the circular heaven’s overhead. The altar no longer points towards a two-dimensional image of Christ or the Madonna against the wall. Instead, from behind the cross, as if operating a control panel, the priest would direct the service towards the congregation, thus involving the worshipper to an extent not attainable in the traditional, wall-facing, service.
The New Sacristy was attended only by the elite of Florence and, more importantly, the Medici Family themselves. Thus, this subtle, but highly significant, development in Michelangelo’s design plan was perhaps so appraised by the family for the way it would seem to offer a more direct line to God, and thus was an act of seemingly divine empowerment. Michelangelo’s plan was, although, ever more ambitious, and aimed to develop a space such that every object and every architectural schema would serve as a device that would help propel the very soul of the worshipper upwards through a complex, and almost maze-like, set of structural stages.
Juxtaposing larger-than-life sized sculptural ‘portraits’ of Giuliano and Lorenzo de Medici as archetypal Greco-Roman heroes was the sculptor’s attempt to further this feeling of divine empowerment amongst the Medici. The two figures not only propose, or perhaps remind, the Medici as to their divine right to rule in the manner of Roman emperors, but also help to visualise a grid-like form to embellish the square-based plan of the chapel. Line, therefore, is an important element in Michelangelo’s structural plan, and we can see how this emphasis on line helps to energise and ‘activate’ the space, perhaps in correlation with the energy of contemporary trends in many late Renaissance-early Mannerist artworks.
Across the crowded floor plan the worshipper becomes a sculptural site at the intersection between a range of literal and metaphorical lines. These lines we can see crafted on the floor, in the direction of the priest’s service, in the crossing gazes of the four allegories of the day (Dawn, Day, Dusk and Evening) and in the Corinthian columns that crowd the lower walls. The columns house a collection of seemingly empty Tabernacles, spaces that are traditionally embellished with figural sculptures. This emphasis on a sense of absence is perhaps a device that alludes to the immaterial soul of the worshipper, yet somehow re-embodied by the abstract sculpture of the Tabernacle.
The curved, upwards-pointing shape of the Tabernacle canopy projects the soul upwards, away from the earthy chaos into a second, lighter, and more minimal level. It is as if the soul is being somehow squeezed upwards, or perhaps evokes a sort of convection current that purifies the soul as it reaches ever higher and further from the dark pietra serena encrusted earth.
Light, another device used intuitively by the sculptor. One notices that towards the dome-shaped roof, Michelangelo uses light as a way of illustrating not just the purity of the heavens but the darkness of earthy existence. Somehow the shadowy chaos of the square-based ground level feels much more like a cage when compared with the enlightened dome of the roof, and the worshipper is therefore far more aware of his need to purify both mind and body when presented with such a space. Like a sculptural metaphoric paradigm, the New Sacristy operates as to visualise the body and square earth like a cage, contrasted with that of the soul, the mind and rounded heavens above.
Although much more could be said about Michelangelo’s plan, it is worth noting how both the sculptor and Flavin, over 400 years later, emphasised the need for an artwork that could activate the body of the viewer/worshipper as a device through which to render them no longer passive observer, but engaged participant within diverse rituals, and to which we can also associate ever more contemporary examples and movements such as relational art, performance, sound sculptures and politico-artistic activism.
I am currently developing a new series of images sourced from Google Street View. They will be printed on paper to a simple black and white formula. The images themselves consider the desert landscape as a reflection of the human experience of online space, and of our primitive longing for a sense of order and linear progression.
Humanity has long admired the desert, craved its rigidity, its minimal aesthetic and its cleanliness. We fill it with our deepest desires, our dreams, our hopes and fears. It is the absolute environment, offering nothing more than sand and dust under an overbearing sun. Long, straight roads seem to point towards something beyond the real world, and the prospect of death and decay seem somehow more inviting and appealing. Life is water, and the desert, like a Siren from Homer, calls out to us like a drug, offering a simple alternative to the complexities and dirt of the everyday human experience. Perhaps this is where our fascination with Hollywood and the screen come from; this longing for the simplicity and absoluteness that we see exemplified by the desert.
The cinema screen, like the desert, is but the promise of happiness. As the desert, we fill the screen with our desires and aspirations, but require the careful and rigid guidance of the cinema director. Cinema is a medium through which we can step out of the real and back into the womb. We celebrate its magic, its comfort, its intoxicating mystery, offering us images of other spaces that we may inhabit ourselves.
The Google photographic project is a contemporary extension of this desertification of the human experience. Google itself, a search engine with the extraordinary, even god-like, power to source and reveal all forms of knowledge at the click of a button, offers this promise of happiness to its users, who are subsequently entranced by its supernatural powers and find themselves craving ever more knowledge to an ever more efficient and simple interface. GSV reveals the visual world, its spaces, peoples and architecture, without the need for the user to physically move anywhere. We have no need for our bodies, which suffer from the corruptive forces of time and use, instead intertwining ourselves, our minds, with the images before us.
The prints I am developing explore this theme of the hyperbolic ‘otherness’ of the desert as seen through the dry and Zen-like space of the online environment; a sort of extreme post-reality. The series of images can be considered both pictorially, as singular pictures, or in relation to one another. Within these anti-climactic spaces there are moments of noise and action, but frozen in the moment of the image’s capture and lost in the transcendence of the desert itself. A lorry, collapsed on the side of the road illustrates a real event, cinematically staged, explosive in its impact, but seemingly resigned to the ravages and silence of time and the surrounding desert. In another image, a man is framed, stationary, by the abstractness of the desert, his face blurred by the technology, reducing him to a mere pawn in the Google aesthetic.
Google Street View modifies everyone and everything to mere objects in a silent space, at once limiting their existence to the realm of appearance and non-appearance, while preserving their images in the vast desert-like landscape of the online space.
“Still, there is a violent contrast here, in this country, between the growing abstractness of a nuclear universe and a primary, visceral, unbounded vitality, springing not from rootedness, but from the lack of roots, a metabolic vitality, in sex and bodies, as well as in work and in buying and selling. Deep down, the US, with its space, its technological refinement, its bluff good conscience, even in those spaces which it opens up for simulation, is the only remaining primitive society. The fascinating thing is to travel through it as though it were the primitive society of the future, a society of complexity, hybridity, and the greatest intermingling, of a ritualism that is ferocious but whose superficial diversity lends it beauty, a society inhabited by a total metasocial fact with unforeseeable consequences, whose immanence is breathtaking, yet lacking a past through which to reflect on this, and therefore fundamentally primitive…It’s primitivism has passed into the hyperbolic, inhuman character of a universe that is beyond us, that far outstrips its own moral, social, or ecological rationale”.
From the chapter: Vanishing Point, Torrey Canyon, p.7-8, published by Verso, 1988
Tate Modern’s display of selected works by the artist William Klein was an intoxicating spectacle of the postmodern obsession with mass media and semiotics. Curated by Simon Baker and Juliet Bingham, the show observed and blew-up Klein’s iconic photographs to monumental scale whilst paying homage to his other pursuits as an artist; painting, film and academics.
Entering room 1, an audience is immediately subsumed into the aura and spectacle of a projected film of IMAX proportions. Broadway by Light, 1958, reels through what was described by Orson Welles as ‘the first film I’ve seen in which the colour is absolutely necessary’. Flashing neon lights and New York billboards whirl past our eyes, our gaze transfixed by the hues and motion of the images. Somehow an interesting combination of Abstract Expressionist scale and colour and Dan Flavin’s sculptures/installations with light, the work ushers us into a Zen-like calm whilst we lose all sense of outside reality.
This fixation with spectacle, signs, colour and scale translates into everything Klein was to produce through his career. Interestingly though, the work still has much to offer the critical contemporary viewer beyond an historical placing within the zeitgeist of the postmodern era.
In room 2, we encounter many black and white photographs, clustered together in dark frames, evocative of the Facebook or Flickr aesthetics. Although made material, as prints, the clustering of the images emphasises the repetition and banality of what would otherwise be considered particularly powerful, obscure or confrontational photographs. So, as much as the artist was interested in the power of the media to create spectacle out of the seemingly banal, it also had the power to make the spectacular seem somehow limited and mundane. This levelling of reality to a series of equally weighted images is certainly an important consideration for contemporary artists dealing with online space today, from which we are persistently bombarded with images that somehow sterilise any real feelings of engagement with the depicted.
As we walk through the gallery space, we encounter Klein’s experiments with abstraction in painting, with large dissimilar letters sprawled across the canvas face, images of which were developed before and influenced the artist’s later photography. This is accompanied by a documentary video of Klein explaining the reasons from which he would choose one photograph ahead of another.
However, perhaps Klein’s most successful pieces outside of his photography are the excerpts from the artist’s films seen in room 6. Run as an installation on 3 connected screens, the Tate tracks through Klein’s Who are you, Polly Maggoo?, 1965, Mr Freedom, 1969, The Model Couple, 1975, and Grand Soirs et Petit Matins, 1968. Mr Freedom’s parody of Cold War politics through a comic battle between those representing the forces of the ‘Freedom’ state and ‘the others’, is perhaps most easily paralleled with the films of Woody Allen, and the heavily stylised costumes become a theme which echoes his absurdly scaled photographs and pulsating colours of his paintings.
I recently read Jeff Wall’s response to Peter Osborne’s questions regarding the artist’s thoughts on photographic series, as opposed to Wall’s emphasis on the single picture tableau. Osborne refers to Wolfgang Tillman’s photographic series as a poignant example. The photographer’s response is clear and intuitive. He says:
“In the past, photographers laboured under a major disadvantage that derived from their obligation to conform to some form of journalistic model. That seems to have bound him [In reference to Walker Evans] to an epoch or at least to a certain situation in a thematic way, and you can find the same thing with many others. In contrast…the painter has a sovereign relation to the subject. I have always wanted that sovereignty, that freedom from the subject of the picture. With a series, you seem to be committed to the presentation of a theme or a situation, and that the presentation of a theme is your goal and your accomplishment.”
Wall goes on. But what he is proposing is that photographers cannot be both absolute sovereign of their images whilst maintaining an interest or specific topical agenda with the depicted. This idea would explain the photographer’s interest in the history of painting more so than in photographic icons, citing Poussin, Delacroix and Manet above that of Evans and Cartier-Bresson. Wall’s images will occasionally touch upon topical issues, such as his Mimic of 1982 which may allude to themes of racism, but he is quick to dismiss the importance of such themes given his more pertinent interest in the picture-making act, and the structural complexities of the image after the collapse of Modernism.
Developing pictorial tableau using Google Maps Street View, I am therefore loaded with this functional problem as elaborated by Wall. Is it possible to develop singular images that combine both an analysis of the postmodernist image while posing a critique of the source material itself? I could refer to paintings like Gericault’s Raft of the Medusa, or to many of Goya’s etchings with regard Napoleonic wars, but I think the problem is different today, given the developments in new medias and the seemingly more complex relationship between images and events. Without being able to give a straight solution yet, these are the most significant problems I face in my practice.
The Postmodernist and Minimalist movements sought to secularise the two-dimensional image as a polemic against Modernism’s fetishisation of the artwork. They saw an indexical link between modernist idolisation and reification of the artist and artwork, as exemplified in the Abstract Expressionist movement, and capitalism’s propensity to fetishize the commercial product.
Painting and photography, as the standard embodiment of the two-dimensional image, survived these ideological assaults, and by no means have fallen away since. Today, artists still see potential resolutions in the flat picture plane that were perhaps not so visible to many in that period of art’s highly reductive critique of itself.
However, Minimalism’s questions and arguments have yet to be fully answered by painters and photographers alike, with many choosing instead to ignore the question altogether; what is the significance or relevance of the two-dimensional image made material in an age of simultaneous and participatory interface media? Does the artwork-as-object still retain the capacity to critique culture as was possible in the 1960’s and 70’s? Or does it merely allude to such assessments without ever fully confronting them, even becoming the object of their own critique, the fetishized capitalist product?
Marshall McLuhan’s much quoted statement the medium is the message has been misunderstood as an assessment which states the artwork must be appreciated with respect to its material properties. This sounds too much like Greenbergian Modernism, whereby the artwork could only be considered by the sum of its material properties. Instead, McLuhan was referring to the extent to which perception of artwork is not reduced to isolated typographical media but that media are inherently interrelated and governed by a history of associative dialectics. Thus, in Understanding Media, of 1964, McLuhan wrote:
“The content of writing is speech, just as the written word is the content of print, and print is the content of the telegraph”.
What McLuhan was illustrating, and which became one of the most important developments of the postmodernist era, was that an understanding of perceptual and historical contexts are fundamental in the analysis of the formal and critical potency, or potential, of a work of art. Painting cannot escape its historical and perceptual ties to pre-Renaissance icon painting and is indexically linked to the art of religious spaces. It cannot, therefore, emancipate itself from such dialectics, only harness them for the construction of a more integrated and complex critical image.
McLuhan articulated that Modernism’s typographical developments were a product of a system that had its roots in the Italian Renaissance. Previous to this, artwork was not defined by the same set of rules applied to it today; that it was a multi-sensory, self-aware and performative art free from the dogmatic and restrictive logic of typographical discourses. Heavily invested in its own spatial contexts, artworks would not be venerated in the same way that capitalism fetishizes the object. And it is this understanding of the changing logic to which artwork then was used that offers us an image of a new use to which we can put art today.