Josh Kline

Keep The Change (Texas Roadhouse Waiter’s Arm with Bottle Opener), 2018

3D printed sculptures in plaster ink-jet and cyanoacrylate, ceramic plates, custom serving tray, wooden tray stand

Dimensions Variable

Edition 1/3 + II AP


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Artwork
Description

Josh Kline’s works explore the uninterrupted and ever-evolving relationship between humans and digitalisation, both in their contents and in their materials. The artist uses 3D printing and scanning to reproduce replicas of human body parts, focusing literally and metaphorically on the existential, political and social human conditions of the digitalised era we inhabit.

A wooden tray stands adorned with greasy burgers and chips, wrapped in warning notices rapidly turning to a black and yellow mush. In an inversion of the usual order, two waiter’s arms are served on the tray. One of the pale hands holds a bottle opener which states “warning – avoid injury”: how ironic.

The statement of the bottle opener in this well-staged crime scene generates a thought-provoking parody which stresses the viewer’s attention on the politics of work and issues such as income inequality, rights, injuries, unemployment. The use of 3D printing to reproduce, or better, to replicate human bodies, calls the viewer to reflect on the ceaseless and, often conflicting, relationship between humans and digitalization, human jobs and autonomation, and the million replicas of ourselves we constantly created by uploading data.

By staging this unnerving, yet witty scene, where fragmented parts of workers’ bodies are placed within adverts or tools from different trades, Kline stresses the lack of public attention for labour politics. Like the arms of a waiter on a customer tray, workers’ welfare often feels invisible, falling out of politicians’ sights; unless, their damages hit somehow to their interests, so as the injured arms on this tray hit our sensitivity as this greying food would our stomachs.

About
the artist

Josh Kline (b. 1979) was born in Philadelphia; he now lives and works in New York, as a curator, collaborator and artist.

Josh Kline aligns his art with the philosophy of post-humanism. Spanning a wide variety of media with specific focus upon the technologically innovative, his art has an ergonomic sensibility. It is centred upon the ability of humanity to function efficiently within its working environment, with corporeality being marginalised in favour of digital expressions of selfhood.

The beating heart of his work is found in the human obsession with an abstract future and the obsessive desire to project onto this imagined existence. It is quintessentially sci-fi that exists as an expression of the contemporaneous obsession with progression; it is a statement of art’s ability to exist at the frontiers of scientific advancement and simultaneously a warning against the potential to strip one’s humanity away to better function within a technocratic society. Kline opposes the often-held belief that technological progress is necessarily positive. There appears to be a commodification of the individual, forced to operate as a near superhuman machine, enhanced by caffeinated drinks, drugs and accessories. In his work human productivity is improved at the cost of ones humanity: technological progress comes to serve societal means over the personal and creates a society, which enables the production of commodities that do not truly benefit the masses.

There is an interesting duality in Kline’s work, as the strongly theoretical foundation marries itself to the concrete world it inhabits. There is a tendency to circumnavigate artistic intellectualism and to ignore its inherent historicity. As a result his oeuvre opens a discussion which transcends the art industry, contextualising the works in terms of the present, and this is reflected in his curatorial practice. Integral to understanding his work as an expression of post-humanist theory, is an attempt to escape from the past. His work exists within the expanding intersection between the sterile syntheticism of technological progression and the primordial corporeality of base human existence; it is an expression of the modern obsession with mass media replication and the importance of digitisation.

This idea is best noted in the contrast between his works, such as Living Wages  that features bacterial cultures continually reproducing, and his sculptures, such as  Ready to Wear, that are so easily reproduced by 3D printing techniques. These two contrasting elements represent a real human fear, embodied within the principle of bacterial fission. These living sculptures can only reproduce to the point that there are available growth factors; once these diminish the bacteria also dissipates. This is a warning against the industrial reproduction of technology that consumes great amounts of human and inorganic resources; if it is not carefully monitored and managed, it can potentially approach an apocalyptic teleology. In this way Kline’s work questions the technological juggernaut as an entity that endangers existentialist humanism.


There is an interesting duality in Kline’s work, as the strongly theoretical foundation marries itself to the concrete world it inhabits. There is a tendency to circumnavigate artistic intellectualism and to ignore its inherent historicity. As a result his oeuvre opens a discussion which transcends the art industry, contextualising the works in terms of the present, and this is reflected in his curatorial practice.

This idea is best noted in the contrast between his works, such as Living Wages  that features bacterial cultures continually reproducing, and his sculptures, such as  Ready to Wear, that are so easily reproduced by 3D printing techniques. These two contrasting elements represent a real human fear, embodied within the principle of bacterial fission. These living sculptures can only reproduce to the point that there are available growth factors; once these diminish the bacteria also dissipates.


Josh Kline
on Artuner

Part of the
exhibition

November 1st, 2018 until
January 6th, 2019
Curated by ARTUNER