Friday, 24 March 2017

Mishka Henner, Search History Review

Mishka Henner's Search History by Staffordshire University Fine Art undergraduate Pritesh Patel.

There is a strong argument for one to claim that no image is truly original. For Search History, Mishka Henner presents work that fully embraces this claim via appropriation. Henner specialises in pulling imagery and data from the Internet and his work in Search History is no exception. Although older, well known works of Henner's feature such as No Man's Land and Coronado Feeders, the artist also presents newer works such as, Royal Subject and Atlantis Chaos. Both of these works follow his ongoing practice of digital appropriation.
Royal Subject presents familiar portraits of Queen Elizabeth II but obscures them with denotations of focal points from the artist's gaze. Atlantis Chaos layers the text of a Chinese map of Britain over satellite imagery of Mars.
But it is an older 2014 piece titled IMG_01 that I feel most effectively addresses the nature of his work by displaying a photograph in a traditional physical framed presentation and also in its raw form of digital code printed in a book. Although the image is quite clearly taken from another source rather than photographed by the artist himself, displaying it in an untranslated format conveys that this image is infinitely reproducible simply via the process of computers interpreting code. This is a state of existence that runs through each and every one of Henner's works.
The works present in Search History range from digital imagery pulled directly from the Internet and printed in high fidelity to an engraved granite reproduction of a film's end title, yet all of the works tie into this single all encompassing concept - that no image is original, despite their various physical natures.
Although every work conveys the modern lack of originality, their unique attributes bring forth differing subject matters that can easily extract discourse on a wide range of issues. Searching for the Enemy brings forth the effects of the War on Terror on modern common vocabulary, yet Coronado Feeders bluntly presents the viewer with a stark reality of the full scale of the US beef industry. Henner provides us with appropriated imagery which holds an impact within a world filled to the brim with reproduced imagery in Search History.
- Pritesh Patel

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