Categorising Digital Images

A new, specially commissioned body of work from British artist Julie Cockburn (b. 1966) comes to the Print Sales Gallery at The Photographers’ Gallery in London. The exhibition, Layer Opacity, focuses on the multifaceted nature of the artist’s delicate craftsmanship whilst referencing and making use of software algorithms for the categorisation of digital images. Much of Cockburn’s work reconfigures found objects and vintage photographs into carefully constructed, contemporary artworks.

Drawing on her professional training in sculpture, the artist approaches her source material from a three-dimensional perspective. Through the use of embroidery, collage and painterly techniques, she transforms found prints – adding a layer of bold geometric patterns, stitching or gestural scrawls – rendering the original subject unrecognisable. These unique interventions provoke new dialogues and narratives between the contemporary and the historical, gender and identity, the real and the fabricated.

Introducing newer, experimental processes, the 30 images featured in Layer Opacity reflect upon recent developments in digital technologies. Many of the pieces on display draw on the increasing authority of computer algorithms over the categorisation of digital images. For this body of work, Cockburn fed her prints through an image recognition software and found visual matches to various photos of objects such as marbles, 3D glasses, a Chinese vase, etc. These objects were then sourced and are displayed beside her prints in the exhibition space.

Julie Cockburn, Layer Opacity, until 13 November, Print Sales, The Photographers’ Gallery, London

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Julie Cockburn appeared in Aesthetica‘s Last Words in Issue 62. Pick up a copy from our archive:

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1. Julie Cockburn, Spell, 2016 © Julie Cockburn, courtesy of The Photographers’ Gallery, London.