‘The empire on which the sun never sets’
A series of exhibitions featuring the work of David Shankbone.
– A work by Jamie Green.
15-25 June 2016
In 2006 David Shankbone began taking photographs.
Having received a digital camera as a gift and having little previous experience with cameras and no formal training he began what he has come to call an ‘on-going artwork.’
Taking photographs from his immediate surroundings, he uploaded the images to illustrate and contribute to the still young and often un-illustrated website – Wikipedia. Each image was submitted under creative commons licensing allowing anybody use of the images for any purpose, free. Asking only for the image to be credited to him.
By 2012, Wikipedia was an established canon of collaborated information from around the world and over 5000 of these articles in more than 200 different languages contained photographs by the user: David Shankbone.
David Shankbone can be cited as one of the most influential photographers of the digital age. A feat recognised by his inclusion in an exhibition in the Museum of New York (USA,) an interview with photographer Billy Name in Bomb Magazine and even through Wikipedia among many others.
This exhibition is just one of twelve exhibitions happening simultaneously between June 15th and June 26th, 2016.
Taking place in locations around the world, each venue has been approached due to the individual context they operate within. Relating to issues surrounding Internet access and use as and/or community based structures akin to that of Wikipedia.
‘The empire on which the sun never sets’ can also presently be seen at:
Pitcairn Island Museum – Adamstown, Pitcairn Island
Salvation Mountain – Niland, California
Studio Cerrillo – San Cristóbal de las Casas, Mexico
PCdV – Valparaíso, Chile
Bruce High Quality Foundation University – New York, USA
Lísthus – Ólafsfjörður, Iceland
Na Kashirke Art Gallery – Moscow, Russia
Abaarso School of Science and Technology – Hargeisa, Somaliland
The Glue Factory – Glasgow, UK
Platform3 – Bandung, Indonesia
Meridian Space – Beijing, China
Jambo Arts – Majuro, Marshall Islands
RM – Auckland, New Zealand
Hoping to explore the porous borders between what might typically be thought of as sculpture and the performance or event, I have a particular interest in the potency of specific sites and systems of value.
Drawing influence from a wide range of reference points such as Diogenes,Bikini Kill and Michael O’Leary of Ryanair. The work develops from what could be described as an administrative practice. Utilizing a wide range of varied materials, my work often includes the manipulation of objects through pre-existing systems incorporating the skills of others.
I hope to encapsulate a bold exploration of the expanded field of sculpture in relation to materiality/immateriality. Connected to our understanding of real world phenomena or objects as mediated by virtual experiences.
MFA, Glasgow School of Art, Glasgow, UK : 2014 – 2016
BA Fine Art Practice, Goldsmiths College, London, UK : 2007 – 2010
|Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2016||ICA, London, UK. Nov 2016
|Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2016||Bluecoat, Liverpool, UK. July 2016
|The empire on which the sun never sets.||13 locations worldwide, June 2016
(Organiser and participant- Group Show)
|Look Aboot Ye!||Stirling Castle, Stirling, Oct 2015
(Organiser and Participant – Group Show)
|Quest for Fire||Glasgow open house festival, Glasgow, May 2015
|Interim Soup||Reid Gallery, Glasgow, May 2015
|Imperfect Reflections||Project Space 1, Glasgow, April 2015
(Organiser and Participant – Group Show)
|The Mountains are Calling and I must go.||Chalet Christophe, Obergurgl, Austria, January 2015
|RadioCity||Tate Britain, London, January 2015
|A Perfect Day – An exhibition at Kinlochard Village Hall||Kinlochard Village Hall, Kinlochard, December 2014
(Organiser and Participant – Group Show)
|Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2016||London/Liverpool 2016|
|Gilbert Bayes Sculpture Scholarship||London, 2016|
|Museum George Enescu Residency||Tescani, Romania, 2008|
|Nicholas and Andrei Tooth Travel Bursary||London, 2010|
That day, we received a box from Jamie Green, containing 300 copies of 3R-sized photographs and a display set, including 10 white minimalist frames. From those 300 photographs, we had to carefully choose 10 photographs to be framed and displayed starting from June 15, 2016. The exhibition will be held simultaneously in 13 places around the world.
The photographs sent to us happened to be David Shankbone’s works, considered to be one of the most influential photographers in digital era. How so? Shankbone turned out to be one of Wikipedia contributor, a popular online free encyclopedia generated by users. Since the beginning, Shankbone allowed anyone to use and distribute his photographs as long as he is credited as the photographer. This way, we can assume that Shankbone’s photographs have been distributed massively.
At first, Shankbone’s photographs distribution is associated with its context, most likely corresponding to the information content in Wikipedia page. Along with reproduction process, embedded context began to shift and eventually, disappeared.
We were dealing with 300 copies of photographs, loaded with random images, yet insufficient in context. We then attempted to formulate a selection method to overcome the randomness. We spontaneously started categorizing the photographs by sorting them according to the subject matter. The categories were:
- Performativity. We chose images that imply “strong” pose, images that reflect gesture and also action, statement or identity.
- Mug shot. The majority of the photographs are mug shots. We found many type of mug shots we even created more than one portrait category. In this category, a mug shot is a portrait category that represents full facial image of a person.
- Portrait & Books. This category appeared since we found many images show one person (or more) with rows of books in the background.
- People. These are portraits that contain more than one person in the images.
- Moments. “Moments” category is similar to portrait. However, the entire moment captured in the image tends to dominate than the subjects’ performance or character.
- Demonstration. Many images we found depict demonstration actions assigning various issues. This category can be broken down further, which are potentially appealing both visually and narratively.
- Public spaces. There are a lot of images showing crowds of people, traces of people or certain action in public spaces.
- Landscapes. This category indicates landscape portrayal in urban area, rural area or nature.
- Animals. Picture of animals, as the title says.
- Uncategorized. These are images that do not belong to categories above.
In this step, we instantly eliminated 3 categories at once. Both “Uncategorized” and “Animals” category was eliminated since for insufficient number and lack of interesting insight. “Landscape” category was discarded for its typical postcard aesthetic. We were left with 7 categories with 10 photographs each, and our next step was to choose which category stands out best to be exhibited.
We further trimmed our options until we finally met 2 strong candidates. First, “Performativity”. We considered “Performativity” as a strong and interesting discourse, and we found the photographs belong in this category could bring up curiosity about what was really happening in the photograph. The second one was “Us & Books”. As this category stroke as ordinary in theme, “Us & Books” seems to liberate itself from perplexing contexts. On the contrary, photographs in “Performativity” suggested the presence of appropriate frame of reference for each image.
We finally laid our choice on “Us & Books”, both for its simplicity and complexity. This exhibition happened to be titled by Jamie Green as “The Empire on Which the Sun Never Sets”. On the other hand, this title instantly reminded us of European countries’ jargon in colonial era. There was an era in world history where it was the ultimate achievement to spread the colonization as expansive as possible. The colonized areas covered were so extensive that there was always at least one part of their territory that was in daylight. Along with it, began to spread knowledge, culture, social, economy and politic system. Dissemination. And here, books are very correlated to knowledge dissemination.
In a globalized world we are living in, each of us now is eventually connected through information technology and common interests among existing diversity and divergence. Even so, our knowledge foundation still heavily refers to the pattern that haven’t changed much for centuries. Books, are placed right in the heart of dissemination. And us. We take pictures, right in front of those rows of books.
Bandung, June 2016
Credits:This work has been made possible by all those involved at each individual location and in particular: Sue Whitmire, Cisco, PCdV, Dorian at Meridian Space, Platform3, Darralyn Griffiths, Andrea Arrubla, BHQF, Alice Liu, Ziggy Lever, Luba at Na Kashirke and James Linville.
I would also like to thank Lesley Young, James Hutchinson, Isobel Lutz-Smith, Hannah Willetts and especially David Shankbone – whose help and support throughout the has enabled all this to happen.
Jamie Green – 2016
For more information about the project please visit www.davidshankbone.com
For more information about Jamie Green please visit www.jamiegreen.net
Images coming soon.