From Feb 2015 to Mar 2015 we curated an exhibition for one of the gallerys artists Hugh Scott Douglas.
This was his first exhibition at the gallery which included a series of his latest works. One series of works in this exhibition, entitled 'Active Surplus', uses the plastic sleeves that were once ubiquitous as the envelopes used to hold and protect negative film after photographic processing. Now largely obsolete, the sleeves are bought up and sold on by online surplus dealers. The use-value of the original commodity is inefficiently translated into material value. Scott-Douglas' use of the sleeves parallels this transformation, calling attention to the material's physical and aesthetic properties.
A second series of works develops the theme. 'Heavy Images' consist of expired billboard images, printed on vinyl, folded and rolled onto neatly bundled units. Repurposed as covers for farmers’ crops, pond liners, patches for damaged doors or sculptures, these once weightless .tiff files, their photographic images obscured, now demand significant infrastructure to facilitate their movement through the world. This infrastructure calls to mind the surrogate economy to which these exhausted images belong, and particularly the mechanics of transfer of value itself from image to object.
Pages appropriated from maintenance manuals for Patek Philippe watches are combined with 'Screentone' prints, a technique Scott-Douglas has used across a number of recent bodies of work. In referencing a brand whose byline proposes a fetishisation of the notion of value through longevity and inheritance, this series of works might be seen to represent a counterpoint to the notions of obsolescence or forced depreciation which recur elsewhere in Scott-Douglas’ work.
The final series of work in the exhibition mines images from “The Economist” magazine. The photographs in the magazine’s global reports have a unique status in their relationship to the text they accompany; with no bylines and few explicit credits, they stand ambiguously between stock photography and photojournalism. Scott-Douglas uses acrylic gel to lift the pigment of the images from the paper, and then transforms them into photographic positives, enlarging them and printing with UV curable ink directly onto their large format supports.