Michael Andrew Page Cut-and-Pastes Cultural History at Edel Assanti, London

What do the 19th-century paintings of Delacroix, black metal album covers, Final Fantasy video games, and Heidegger have in common? They are all appropriated in London-based artist Michael Andrew Page’s current exhibition at Edel Assanti in London, “Count the Leaves in Vallombrosa,” whose title comes from a lost essay by Thomas de Quincey. 

These reference points could have just as likely have been covered in poet and artist Kenneth Goldsmith’s course at the New School, “Wasting Time on the Internet,” which encourages creativity through hyperlinked searches and surfing, remixing existing material into new work. “Nothing is off-limits,” Goldsmith wrote in a recent article in the New Yorker; students “can render celebrity Twitter feeds into epic Dadaist poetry; they can recast Facebook feeds as novellas.” While Goldsmith refers here to creative writing, the principles stand just as easily for visual art (disciplines, in any case, are dissolved in this methodology), where images are re-appropriated in the construction of new multi-referential, or inter-textual, works.

These reference points could have just as likely have been covered in poet and artist Kenneth Goldsmith’s course at the New School, “Wasting Time on the Internet,” which encourages creativity through hyperlinked searches and surfing, remixing existing material into new work. “Nothing is off-limits,” Goldsmith wrote in a recent article in the New Yorker; students “can render celebrity Twitter feeds into epic Dadaist poetry; they can recast Facebook feeds as novellas.” While Goldsmith refers here to creative writing, the principles stand just as easily for visual art (disciplines, in any case, are dissolved in this methodology), where images are re-appropriated in the construction of new multi-referential, or inter-textual, works.

But Page’s pieces are not so much about reproduction from digital platforms—they take their references from historic works of art and literature, and represent physical objects on the edge of obsolescence. Paperback editions of Romantic prose and jewelcase CDs are rendered in fine graphite pencil drawings. Page’s other format is veneer boards, stained with the aesthetic of electric guitar designs and decorated with logo stickers. He considers these boards as “delivery platforms,” after media theorist Henry Jenkins’ discourse on transmedia, where elements of narrative are dispersed across multiple channels to take the fictional construct into many dimensions. Page is thus interested in the potential for narrative making within the visual work of art, which itself is set within wider cultural meta-narratives. Bringing together pop and literary culture creates humorous juxtapositions between signs and symbols, reaching into a web of connected reference points relative to each viewer. It’s the cut-and-paste spirit of the era. 

Hannah Gregory

Count the Leaves in Vallombrosa” is on view at Edel Assanti, London, Nov. 12–Dec. 20, 2014.

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