Shahin Afrassiabi Upgrade, Zoom, Beach
10 September – 29 October 2016
The works in your sketches for your upcoming show Upgrade, Zoom, Beach are pretty much „sketchy“ themselves. It is almost like you select objects, for instance frames, but only show a suggestion of these. You seem to shift the focus towards their materiality instead of their actual function. What is the initial point for these works?
I think of them as models. Maybe that is why they appear provisional. Models are subject to change and improvement. I think I am at my best when I improvise. Obviously a certain amount of planning is necessary, but I get better results when I am playing. I need to keep that space open in the studio of course, but also in a show, and once the work is up it is fixed.
Could you say a few words about the exhibition title?
Upgrade, Zoom, Beach is a name for each of the three elements on display: the wall constructions, upgraded to aluminium from previous wooden ones, the photographs taken with the zoom function of the camera, and the paintings which are a riff on pixelated satellite images of beaches. These particular words resonate with some aspects of how we experience images that I am interested in, as well as the conditions in which we experience them.
What sort of conditions do you mean? Are you referring to the circulation of digital imagery?
Yes, but also the methods technology suggests and provides. Images and materials are instruments, like paint is. Paint is both material and instrument. The names are descriptive both of what is going on in the object and in my head. But they also describe a methodology, especially in how the works were conceived – by zooming in on the image, by upgrading the operating system of construction and materials. The beach is the image of presence, of the forever now, where we all want to be, an idyll and for me it has this notion of return to origins.
Just like Marshall McLuhan proposes that a medium itself, not the content it carries, should be the focus of study, the referential characteristics embedded in these materials you use seem to have priority. How do you approach those translational processes, such as switching between mediums, between the texture of photography into painting, between digital and analogue so to say?
The works in the show are really comprised of various aspects of the materialisation of an image, accepting the image as an object and then taking it apart. The gesture, the structure, surface and the support. Those elementary things occur and are repeated in the works. Once the elements are separated they can be re-contextualised. Thinking about it this way frees me up to pursue different manifestations of what an image could be, and what its materiality could be filtered through the application of the methods described above. This way I can avoid the trappings of style.