Bob Bicknell-Knight (b. Suffolk, UK) is a London-based artist and curator working in installation, sculpture, video and digital media. Using found objects and tools made readily available by the Internet, as well as drawing from a unique sensibility influenced by participation in online communities and virtual games, Bicknell-Knight’s work explores the divergent methods by which consumer capitalist culture permeates both online and offline society. Utopian, dystopian, automation, surveillance and digitization of the self are some of the themes that arise through Bicknell-Knight’s critical examination of contemporary technologies.
Bicknell-Knight is also the founder and director of isthisit?, a platform for contemporary art, exhibiting over 800 artists since its creation in May 2016. Online, it operates as a gallery producing monthly exhibitions showcasing emerging to mid-career artists, hosting a roster of guest curators experimenting with the medium of the internet to interrogate a variety of concepts. The website also hosts monthly residencies, where artists are given a web page to create new work that exists on the internet as a piece of net art. Offline, it has held exhibitions nationally and internationally and is the publisher of isthisit?, a book series released on a triannual basis.
Selected solo exhibitions include CACOTOPIA 02 at Annka Kultys Gallery, London (2018), Sunrise Prelude at Dollspace, London (2017) and Are we there yet? at Chelsea College of Art, London (2017). Selected group exhibitions include They Live at Platform Southwark, London (2019), To cite a body at Sluice HQ, London (2019), GROUND ZERO EARTH at Alison Richard Building, Cambridge (2019), Inside Intel at Goldsmiths, University of London, London (2018), Total Power Exchange at Galerie Manque, New York (2018), Paper Cuts at Saatchi Gallery, London (2018), Terms and Conditions May Apply at Annka Kultys Gallery, London (2018), The Museum Has Abandoned Us at State of the Art, Berlin (2017) and The Choice of a New Generation at The Muse Gallery, London (2017).
Bicknell-Knight has spoken on panel discussions and given artist talks at Tate Modern, London (2019), University of Cambridge, Cambridge (2019), Camberwell College of Arts, London (2019) and Goldsmiths, University of London, London (2018).
About the Residency
Over the past year I've been working on a project concerning automated and sculptural objects that examine the infrastructures of data and online consumerism. Within the new series of works I have been producing fake or faux paintings, utilising Photoshop’s Oil Paint filter to render painterly stills of futuristic transport, robodogs and autonomous beings in various environments, with a more recent series focusing on Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Facebook, and his private persona.
The works are originally produced as digital images, circulated online through Instagram, Facebook and my website. They are first documented as if they are a work in progress, mounted on a wall in my artist studio, complete with a digitally imposed palette and empty cups of coffee. Staging the paintings using found online imagery, the paintings appear in studios and living rooms as actualized art objects. Sitting between the fakeness of a three-dimensional render and the image as function, the paintings appear to be authentic, highlighting the misconceptions of viewership through social media and other digital platforms.
Once posted online, I can gauge interest for the work, choosing carefully which works to actually produce as physical, real world objects. The digital images are printed onto canvas, stretched and then partly painted onto with acrylic and oil paint, with the offline artist’s hand interacting with the original online digital image.
During the DAR online residency I will be continuing this online performance; creating the fabricated persona of a painter. Throughout the two-month period I will be creating a new series of images consisting of digital paintings placed within artist studios.
The paintings themselves will focus on areas such as automation, robotics and the future of work, depicting a number of current and future scenarios, from fully automated warehouses containing industrial size robots to security bots used in commercial shops and office buildings. Here, the way in which the works are produced, by a digital hand, are combined with the content, depicting the automation of work.
For the physical exhibition at OVADA in September, for the culmination of the residency, I will be physically producing a few of the paintings, bringing the online residency artworks into the offline context of the gallery space, alongside creating a series of 3D prints. The physical paintings will be made up of both the actual paintings alongside the paintings positioned within the depicted studio spaces, connecting the production method to the final artwork. The 3D printed sculptures will be created from 3D scans of my hands alongside fabricated 3D models of robotic hands, highlighting the digital process behind the paintings as well as looking to the future, questioning how important the idea of honing a craft will be once 3D printing technologies become low cost and easily accessible.
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