Exhibition Notes: Nottingham

At the weekend I paid a visit to the Nottingham Contemporary.  Now I’m not Nottingham’s biggest fan, I think it’s a bit of a dull soulless city (sorry to anybody who lives in Nottingham).  If I had to describe it as a colour I think it would be grey.

I think my biggest beef with it, is that it contains my beau in a state of landlocked despair (he likes the seaside and windsurfing – Nottingham has neither). This, I add, is not Nottingham’s fault.  But it does taint my view somewhat.  However there are a few things that Nottingham has done which has sparked a bit of technocolour into it.

Firstly, the caves of Nottingham (brilliant place – you can read my blog post about it here); secondly The Park with its gas street lamps, impressive architecture and Tunnel; thirdly the Anish Kapoor Sky Mirror installation which is hidden down a side street; fourthly the Bodega Social Club (an excellent music venue where I got to hear the Detroit Social Club last week (Good Northern lads, one who has an awesome voice, and quite possibly the bestest drummer I have heard live) and finally the Nottingham Contemporary (my initial response is it’s a bit pretentious but has an excellent shop).  I think I will have to go see more exhibitions at the Contemporary before I make a more informed opinion.  To be honest, I think most modern art is a bit pretentious, and actually that’s what I kind of like about it.  That it is slightly inaccessible, and it makes you question it, and then yourself for trying to like it.

In attempt to understand some of the pieces on display, I picked up the exhibition notes.  They had a hand with butterflies on the tips of the fingers on the front cover, it’s hard not to pick it up when you are faced with a hand of butterflies.

Two things really stood out for me in the Notes –

Anne Collier stating she was interested in “how photography is employed in relation with everyday objects…can absorb – and illuminate our own narratives.”


Jack Goldstein stating “Technology does everything for us, so that we no longer have to function in terms of experience.  We function in terms of aesthetics.”

Both of these things are integral to my PhD. How digital objects, such as photography, or other ways of visualising objects (in the case of my PhD museum objects) can illuminate narratives and how this affects our experiences of things.  And if technology is supposedly doing everything for us, how important is that experience? Is it negated because we as individuals no longer have to function that way, does is all come down to aesthetics? Do we lose the experience of the object and focus on the technology?

I didn’t really think that at this stage, or at a visit to a contemporary art gallery in Nottingham on a Saturday afternoon, I would find myself leaning towards Walter Benjamin and his ideas on Art in an age of Mechanical Reproduction, yet here we are.

So yes, it’s official, I have PhD brain.  I don’t think I will be able to go anywhere cultural again without wittering on about sensemaking, user experience and digital reproductions.  Sorry!

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