Hugh Scott-Douglas at the Tochigi Prefectural Museum of Fine Arts in Japan
16 April 2016 – 19 June 2016
Weaving together three distinct series of work, Scott-Douglas draws on the idea of the ‘bouquet’, applying its representational and emblematic connotations to his c-prints, dunnage bag sculptures and slide projections. Within the context of this exhibition, the bouquet functions as a symbol of the complex architecture that governs our socioeconomic networks. Individually, each ?ower exists as a sovereign being, free in its solitude, often speci?c to a particular region, growing as one, an assembly line from root to stem, all parts of the plant serving the production of the bloom. Collected and arranged in a vase, a new form results as these separate entities becomes a new whole, controlled by someone else and repurposed to serve their wishes or ends. Scott-Douglas employs this idea of the transformation from a sovereign being to a controlled part of a collective existence — a bouquet — to allude to the varying globalized networks of production as they are commoditized, often through decentralized means of production (controlled by other’s choices and logic), alienated from itself in that process, and removed from its sense of speci?city and singularity.
The ?rst series features 13 photographic works, images of a standard grid of LED lights, initially used to control the ambient light environment (allocating a highly de?ned spatial logic to each photographic composition). Set in the grid, the individual lights form a bouquet, losing their distinctiveness. In these images, the separation between them blurs, they become a cog in an affect-based production line, serving not their own purpose by that to which the grid is put. In a playful pun on the idea of the bouquet, these blurred images of lights, in a vase-like frame of black, are produced by a “bokeh” technique (which breaks down the light in aperture blades of a camera). In effect, background and foreground collapse within a process that is read and generated by a machine.The haziness produced by focusing the lens on the out-of-focus parts of the image, stark in form yet ambiguous in identity, is a further visual pun when linked to the Japanese word “boke” (which represents a blurred state of mind, like jet lag — “jisa boke”) Acknowledging the necessity of language within a system organized around decentralized production, through exploiting the language that organizes their production and serves as their title. The obvious wordplay highlights the cyclical relationship between the verbal and that which is being used to generate each pattern.
Active Surplus is built from composite images are collected and collaged together. Strips of 35mm trailer footage left behind when a bankrupt cinema auctioned off its remaining assets have been recombined with strips of accetate from the artist’s studio. The slide presentations meld surplus with surplus to bring back into active service a new image, housed within the vase of a carrousel. The trailers clips originally heralded a ?lm not made, a promissory note of a story to be told. The negatives from old cyanotype photos are themselves discarded promissory notes for images to be made. The new ?lm, playing to a new audience, wholly alienated from original source is now controlled by a different director.
Comprised of zipped-tied dunnage bags, which commonly operate as packing material, protecting goods in transit against the contingency in the movement and shifts, these sculptures ?ll a void with void — surface oxogen trapped in the service of another task. Originally, these dunnage bags where stuffed as protection in the vase of a container, 48 feet long, shipping goods across the void of an ocean. Now, as white “bouquets” they transform an immaterial common space, ?lling the space between objects, pressurizing the emptiness and giving it form. In controlling the walking path through the show, mapping the contours of this container, the sculpture steer traf?c through the conceptual landscape far removed from the original service and formal operations the raw industrial material was intended to serve.