Jam Sutton is a young British artist creating young British 'European' art. Although multidisciplinary, his sculptures all initially appear to be classical in their marble grandeur, yet on closer inspection, are very much of the times, twisting a classical composition into something of a social commentary. The creations from his latest exhibition 'EGO - SELF - SHADOW' aren't only modern interpretations of classical sculptures, but they're so modern they don't actually exist - well, not quite as they'd seem, anyway.
Whilst this might easily read like a post-modern theory, it in fact, is not. Rather, it comes as a part of the Jam Sutton Studio App in a collaboration with French music producer Uffie for her 2019 track 'Ego', co-written with Ariel Pink.
The track is an atmospheric lo-fi electronic piece, somewhere in between Burial, Jungle and Jamie xx. For Sutton, whose pedigree comes in producing sculptures that largely defy time and place (whilst still being tellingly off-the-times) he chose to depict the singer in a dramatic pose, eyeless, clutching a mythological serpent in an almost inverse Medusa tale straight from a Greek classic.
It started this way, but the collaboration between the two soon morphed into something else entirely, a digital audio-visual experience that went beyond a singular sculpture, becoming a sort of non-exitant exhibition that required zero attendence fee, no queues and only a connection to the internet. A concept the artist has also found success with at Venice Bienalle.
Initially a piece exploring the notion of 'ego', to coincide with the title of the track and drawing influence from the exploratory works of psychoanalyst Carl Jung's shadow theory, it went beyond just a marble sculpture (which was still created as the pièce de résistance), becoming an augmented reality experience that allowed a much deeper interpretation and conceptual exploration of the theme - as well as being a more fitting homage to it's main influence in Jung.
On his website, Sutton explains in greater detail the influence behind depicting Uffie in this manner:
"Throughout history the symbol of a serpent represents duality of good and evil and Carl Jung’s concept of the ‘Shadow’ emphasizes this. In Jung’s theory, at an early age we are conditioned to what is ‘good’ and ‘evil’ by our early experiences. According to Jung, everyone has a ‘shadow’, the unconscious side of ourselves where negative (and sometimes positive) personality traits are kept. ‘Ego, Self and Shadow’ are Jung’s components of ourselves: the Ego is where our consciousness resides and our sense of identity, the self is the complete potential of the psyche looking forward and striving for wholeness, and the shadow is the negative personality traits we choose to ignore. Depending on how light hits a subject, the shadow can be dense or insignificant. Finding a balance of the Ego, Self and Shadow is a goal Jung explored to reach personal wholeness."
Able to fully explore the sculpture in the app, it's part of a greater exhibition space where audiences can explore the artist's works without ever leaving their homes - an idea that for many is the future of art, and many others, the death of it. Still, it brings Sutton's sculptural works to new audiences whilst also reintroducing the classical back into contemporary life.
It works by turning any flat surface with sufficient light into a gallery space, for our viewing pleasure. Besides being a great accompaniment to the track, it's food for thought for future exhibitions, not just bringing them into our homes, but the shackles that can be shed by sculptors who would now be able to exhibit physically 'impossible' works in spaces usually reserved for other things.
Augmented reality in art frees both the artist and the exhibition space, giving anywhere the ability to be considered so. Still, it's an episode of Black Mirror too far for many and, whilst an eye-opening and innovative project here, one that was lauded for its creativity, those following in its footsteps also risk looking like pale imitations of an idea belonging to one of Britain's most exciting young mixed media artists whose sculptures have already rejuvenated an artistic area with limited appeal to a public increasingly out-of-touch with classical artforms. This means that it may very well continue to be a Jam Sutton exclusive area for exploration in the future. We wouldn't complain...
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