Orbis Grafo
a scenography of dissent

30 x inkjet prints on 180Gsm Canon photopaper 420 x 297mm
30 x inkjet prints on 100Gsm Epson inkjet paper 420 x 297mm
30+ x acrylic on 240Gsm acid free drawing paper 420 x 297mm

April 26 - 28 2007
Loose Projects 2nd floor 168 Day Street Sydney Australia


About the images

From Newspapers
I've been collecting an image type from newspapers for about thirty years. The photo-journalist image shows conflict between two groups - one present but representing, the other present and presenting.

On one side are the enforcing representatives of the ruling elite (ie the State) embodied as police or military. They're usually attired in uniform - a unity of formality signifying objective authority. This cohering garb has recently evolved from relatively simple clothing to high-tech full-body armour.

On the other side are the dissenters - citizens of the State. They've remained pretty much the same in their attire, the clothing of everyday life - a unity of informality signifying subjective autonomy.

The scene is played out across the world, wherever there is government, with varying degrees of constraint and brutality. Specific catalysts are heterogenous but the generic impetus is the same - dissent, frustration, dissatisfaction, anger - sufficient to inspire individuals to public defiance and confrontation with the force of the State.

From the Internet
In 1992 I was in Chicago at the annual SIGGRAPH computer graphics conference where I saw a presentation by students of the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. They demonstrated a beta-version of a software technology they called Mosaic. It was a way to encode and include images in html - until that time, the nascent world wide web had been text only. I could sense the revolutionary implications of this technology.

In 2007, digital image culture (the predominant precession of the simulacrum) is completely pervasive in the technologised consumerist cultures. Amidst the multifarious, polyvalent trajectories of the wwweb, a strand of image type winds, similar to but importantly variant from the newspaper images I've been collecting. People from within the dissenting groups are taking and posting images into the datasphere, creating and participating in a more broadly diffused community of dissent.

On April 25 2007 a simple search on the key words 'protest' and 'march' in the online "photo management and sharing application" flickr returned a collection of over 38,000 photos.

Painting - Work of Art
In the west, a traditional equation collates dissent and art - artist as outsider, trader in taboo, existential explorer, body tearer, confrontational skeptic, nihilist desponder, heart-rending agoniser, rancourous ironist, desperate poet.

Another equation immutably twins the stuff of paint and the work of art. Defiantly perhaps, the act of painting and the object made of paint persist and prosper in the market of meaning in the era of the pixel.

And the making, purpose and performative outcome of the painted protest placard is directly analogous to the practice of the artist.

My Orbis Grafo painting project involves the production of an extensive series of simple two-colour paintings of slogans of dissent - a crowd of autonomous painting-object analogues. I'm interested in what becomes them, presented together within the performative context of the universe of art.

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