The Workspace

A new exhibition in the Photofusion gallery, Brixton features work by Richard Nicholsen. In the transition to digital photography, the professional darkroom is a dying and disappearing space. These beautifully captured mechanics of the darkroom initially drew me in, but then also the ordered sense of continued use and metallic, analogue sheen of production.

The current issue of Cabinet, themed 'Dust' features Perry Ogden's by now famous images of Francis Bacon's catatrophic looking studio in 7 Reece Mews. It is particularly iconic, as no-one can understand how he managed to do anything in here at all. I love images of workspaces, and recent years have seen a fascination with voyeuristic images of 'other people's desks'. Like this, this, and well, you know the kind.... Chaos, on one hand suggests that crazy lateral madness of original thinking, but on the other, it reveals frenzied dis-organisation and a lack of meta-aesthetic skills. I just made up that term, but think 'systems', think 'strategic thinking'. Naturally, when we work in the digital realm, out contact with the tools is mediated by the technology. So it's is not possible to compare lush, tactile work spaces to what we now take as quotidien like the ever evolving mac interface.
What is considered normal and utilitarian, becomes fetishised when obsolete. Nostalgia is a cosy hot water bottle. But to what extent is tactility as an index of work patterns and human processes part of this nostalgia to creative times past? Will we look back on mac/pc interfaces with the same cosy perspectives?

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