Gossling’s exhibition explores the work of John Cura who was known for his ‘tele-snaps’ taken during the formative years of television. At the time before the advent of VCR’s he would document programmes by photographing the screen itself, later selling his pictures commercially. He was constantly recording, documenting. Unfortunately his process appears to be at the detriment of his personal life as at some stage his archive of 250 000 images was destroyed. This adds a kind of mythical status to his work, bearing in mind these were often the only record which existed of television programmes at that time. Fortunately a significant number of tele-snaps which were sold during Cura’s life still exist in other people’s collections.
The exhibition consists of a series of digital renders based on 3D scans, several of vintage televisions from the era when Cura was working and 2 larger figurative pieces of a model using a camera who has a photograph of Cura’s face superimposed (or in 3D animation parlance ‘projected’) onto it. All the prints are wall mounted and appear to mimic the appearance of contemporary LCD televisions by being hung using TV brackets.
The interesting elements of this work lie in two distinct areas. Firstly it draws attention to Cura and his work, a fascinating story which deserves further investigation. Secondly in the presentation techniques; 3D scanning is primarily used in areas such as the visual effects industry. Here the artwork is free from that kind of postproduction sheen. These images appear as raw renders unencumbered by the gloss of digital effects and layers of alteration. Whether by accident or design, this technique lends them a kind of historical weight that fits with the subject matter.
Where the vintage televisions have been scanned the technology has been unable to create an accurate 3D model from the reflective surfaces of the TV screens. The result being, the images gain their most interesting aspects at the point at which the process fails; mistakes like these are usually not allowed to flourish or gain meaning during commercial usage of the 3D scanning equipment.
3D rendering, used in this way, i.e. grounded within a historical context, is good to see. This is an underutilised field within contemporary fine art with only a hand full of artists exploring its vast potential. Last Friday (8th May) Gossling was in conversation with the director, writer and producer John Wyver. The talk was interesting while hearing more about Gossling’s practice, the cultural influence of Cura’s work and the effect his approach had on the BBC’s copyright laws, was enlightening. My thanks go out to John Wyver for taking the time to answer my questions about new media after the talk.
The exhibition which was at the Tintype Contemporary Gallery is now closed but you can find out more about it here.