We understand what kind of knowledge the photographic image makes available to us. We know about its status as copy, and the technologies that produce it. We intuitively know that an image isn’t real precisely because it is reproducible. So why try to make all of this visible?
Flip’s How to Make a Delicious Tea has an answer to this question, or more correctly, offers a sophisticated articulation of the circumstances that provoke it. A predominate feature of contemporary experience is the dynamic of image proliferation. Like the light of the sun, images may now elucidate the world in such an all encompassing manner that they defy our ability to see them with any clarity. Flip finds a way to embody this dynamic through an ongoing collaborative process. Working with a group of artists, they produce a composite artwork. How to Make a Delicious Tea creates a material analogy for the image and the way today it is more process than singular entity.
Located nowhere in particular How to Make a Delicious Tea exists as versions of itself that take shape according to the context within which it touches down. Working with pre-existing artworks, the project turns them in to images that are printed onto silk for display as an art exhibition.
If every image now exists as a process, this is because images now exist as expressions of the network that circulates them. Reproducibility and connectivity turn the image into endless versions of itself, a veritable chain of impressions with slight variation. Flip uses silk to perform a kind of transubstantiation, one that enacts a mordant commentary on the many potential layers of a photograph’s insubstantiality.
Somewhat intimate, almost embarrassing to the touch, silk could be said exceed the boundaries of its materiality. It is substance with a suggestion of vaporousness at its edge. Similarly, the best artworks slip beneath the boundaries of attempts to define them. And photographing artworks will always exacerbate the problem, in the guise of saying something definitive. Combining these elements, Flip creates an analogy for the essential contextlessness of digital image reproduction. Silk is used here is not so much like the printed page as the fathomless space of the internet.
How to Make a Delicious Tea makes silk into a self-reflexive medium. Silk transforms mere image, so divisible, back into indivisible luxury object. As a material, silk will distort the image reproduced on it. It drapes with specificity, and so undermines the original’s reproducibility as copy. It’s a kind of triumph, to halt the infinite slippage of the digital. But the respite is only momentary. Photographed, the artworks start to circulate again.
The text was commissioned to accompany Flip Project Space’s How to Make a Delicious Tea II by Art Metropole.
More info about Flip Project Space can be found here.