David Jacques Intro.

I tend to work in cycles, year long ones, give or take, with a particular subject / theme that may need underpinning with a lot of research. Sometimes the projects produced can slightly overspill into other, subsequent renditions… 

Some years ago I cottoned on to ‘Infographics’ and the near neighbour ‘Data Visualisation’. Primarily due to recurring examples of such appearing when involved with online research work (1). As an outcome, a latent interest in graphic languages and semiotics came to the fore.

While infographics holds a lineage that traces back centuries (via cartography, scientific charts etc.) its naming is a relatively recent occurrence, which chances to locate it within some very particular contexts: A reading of this multi modal language could feasibly see it as a mainstay of neoliberal ‘Enterprise Culture’ discourse. An established, all consuming feature of present day ‘Capitalist Realism’.

This engagement with infographics revealed an overly instrumentalised, functional language, dependant on explication and without much scope for agency. It led to thinking about the potentials for intervention and a move towards the old Situationist strategy of détournement (taking in satire, mimicry and subversion). It also initiated some new approaches to the structuring of narrative within my practice.

Two projects that were shaped to that end dealt with Eco-Politics and focussed in particular on Oil Extraction and the economics & logistics thereof. One specific infographic in the form of a template was co-opted and featured significantly in both. It portrayed Oil or Gas pipes in the vernacular, according to the Stock Vector web site it was lifted from (2). The minimal, pristine, digital rendering suggested any reproduction be treated similarly. So by way of détournement, the first use of this infographic saw the imagery being printed off and tampered with by the addition of sprayed ink mimicking splattered oil (3). The pipes were then cut and pasted across a 9ft long concertina-formed collage. Their random conjoining could present as an animistic intestinal or snake-like entity. Or, as just an exercise in rendering something purportedly ‘useful’ as comically useless (4). 

Circling back, it feels like the subject matter and imagery discussed here hasn’t yet been exhausted and could stretch further into the arena of our residency. The possibility of that is primarily due to Ciara’s generous offer of inhabiting the fantastically innovative, agile space she has created with The Dollhouse Project.

Ultimately I’m looking forward to working alongside Anne-Marie, Ciara & Paola and picking up where I left off with those same Eco-political issues.  

David Jacques