Hugh Scott-Douglas

Untitled, 2015

Direct to substrate prints on aluminium

203.2 × 134.6 cm


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Additional Information

Accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.

photo credit: Florian Kleinefenn

Artwork
Description

In this work, Hugh Scott-Douglas appropriates pages from maintenance manuals for Patek Philippe watches and combines them with sheets of ‘Screentone’ – an adhesive transparent sheet used to apply textures and shades to drawings without the labour intensive process of creating such a pattern by hand. The process dates from the 1930s, and was once widely used by illustrators and artists, especially for cartoons and advertising. The screentone process has been largely superseded with the advent of graphics software and desktop publishing, yet these technological advances still replicate its ben-day dot-like appearance. Where Roy Lichtenstein once painted his canvases to emulate mechanically reproduced ben-day dots, Scott-Douglas has used the screentone technique across a number of recent bodies of work to explore mutations between the hand-made, industrial production and digital technology.

Patek Phillipe’s brand strategy suggests a fetishisation of value through longevity and inheritance (“You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely look after it for the next generation.”), which the artist counterposes with the obsolescence of the screentone process. He conflates various temporalities and brand names (Letraset was a company that produced screentone sheets) to highlight the conflicted status and currency of image at our historical moment – one that may be defined in terms of the gradual and indecisive shift from analogue to digital systems. Imbricated within the networks of production, consumption and distribution of images, the work emphasises the material reality of photography and transfer printing, and the tension between analogue and digital practice within contemporary discourse.

Rather than acting as a compensatory gesture for a forgotten process, Scott-Douglas further renders the screentone use-less. Referencing the process-oriented vocabulary of conceptual art, the adhesive sheets are pressed onto debris-covered surfaces in the artist’s studio before being applied to the watch manuals, trapping particles of dust and detritus between the layers of the image, polluting its graphic transferral.  Investigating the migration of images and abstractions across a variety of mediums – painting, photography, and pure numerical data – the work is a continuation of Scott-Douglas’s interest in the meanings and metaphors of digitisation, economics and the aesthetic potential of mechanical production.

About
the artist

Hugh Scott-Douglas (b. 1988) was born in Cambridge, England and moved to Toronto in his youth. He received his BFA from OCAD, Toronto in 2010 and now lives and works in Brooklyn.

Since his break-through exhibition The Cabinet of Dr Cagliari in 2013, Scott-Douglas has experimented extensively with cyanotypes, now one of the main media employed by the artist and emblematic of his oeuvre. A much simpler photographic process than darkroom printing, cyanotypes are produced using two chemicals, potassium ferricyanide and ferric ammonium citrate. Having designed a patterned motif using computer-generated algorithms (a modern step of the process added by Scott-Douglas), the chemicals are blended together in equal parts with water, and poured over the chosen textile. The film is then exposed to sunlight over said textile (canvas and linen in this instance) for fifteen minutes. The results of this unique juxtaposition of the chemical with the organic are largely unpredictable due to environmental factors which differ as time passes, such as UV shifts in the sun’s rays or the increase or decrease in cloud cover. Scott-Douglas also uses the cyanotypes for constructing slideshows.  In this, he transfers the blues into photographic gels and then has these cut into slides so as to play in a slide reel. The spectrum of colour exhibited in each cyanotype can range from mildly to vastly different, leading the artist to state that “a facet of [his] work is chromatic”.

Although central to his practice, cyanotypes are not the only medium used by the artist. Hugh Scott-Douglas’ work featured in Open Source: Art at the Eclipse of Capitalism explores the limits of another semi-mechanical means of artistic production: the obsolete screentone technique. It consists of an adhesive layer dotted with small marks used by draftsmen to rapidly apply shadowing and texture in graphic novels. The artist applies this technique in a very inaccurate way – by letting particles of dust set between the support and the adhesive layer – to appropriated magnified Patek Philippe watches’ manuals. An interesting contrast arises from the use of the dated screentone procedure to Patek Philippe’s manuals, a brand associated with longevity and inheritance.


Since his break-through exhibition The Cabinet of Dr Cagliari in 2013, Scott-Douglas has experimented extensively with cyanotypes, now one of the main media employed by the artist and emblematic of his oeuvre. A much simpler photographic process than darkroom printing, cyanotypes are produced using two chemicals, potassium ferricyanide and ferric ammonium citrate.

The results of this unique juxtaposition of the chemical with the organic are largely unpredictable due to environmental factors which differ as time passes, such as UV shifts in the sun’s rays or the increase or decrease in cloud cover. Scott-Douglas also uses the cyanotypes for constructing slideshows.  In this, he transfers the blues into photographic gels and then has these cut into slides so as to play in a slide reel. The spectrum of colour exhibited in each cyanotype can range from mildly to vastly different, leading the artist to state that “a facet of [his] work is chromatic”.


Hugh Scott-Douglas
on Artuner

Part of the
exhibition