Remastered at One Marylebone

Posted on March 10, 2011

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This review was written for MouthLondon magazine.

In an original collaboration between the past and  present, the Remastered project exhibits 13 reinterpretations of 13 works by old masters. The exhibition has been put together by Intel Corporation with the ambition of fusing classic art and boundary-pushing technology.

The familiar original artworks – including Da Vinci’s Last Supper, Munch’s The Scream and the Venus de Milo – have commanding historical resonances and the artists have endeavoured to engage not only with the art works as objects, but also with the legacies they have accumulated over the years.

Of particular note are Sara Hibbert’s beautiful photographic works that reinterpret Degas’ Dancer with a Bouquet of Flowers. The fragmentation of the dancer’s body in movement recalls the sense of immediacy in Degas’ technique, but with 21st century clarity. The reinterpretation of Van Gogh’s Starry Night, by the collective Midnight Toastie, is another crowd pleaser. The interactive work sticks religiously to Van Gogh’s original composition; highlighting the beautiful and enchanting qualities that have made the work so iconic. Viewers can light up the starry sky with the gesture of a hand.

I feel a sense of relief induced by the whole-hearted embrace of new technologies apparent in this exhibition. There seems to be an attachment to not-quite-up-to-date technology that today’s artists are finding hard to shake. So often do we see artists using old school projectors and retro TVs; big black boxes that give the illusion of watching a miniaturised stage and create distance from the idea of the screen as an artistic surface. Here, and it may have something to do with the sponsorship of Intel, sleek flat screens are mounted like canvasses; these locate the artworks in the present day. Daniel Swan takes it one step further by using digital technology to perfectly recreate the visceral qualities of paint, dripping down his LCD canvas, in his reinterpretation of Dali’s The Persistence of Memory.

The artists and designers form connections, not only between their artworks and the originals, but also between themselves and the original artists. All the original artists  have well-formed profiles in today’s society, but who are these new artists and do they have the right to be messing around with some of history’s masterpieces? I would answer: yes. Our society does not have a singular construct which dictates what an ‘artist’ is. But the artists and designers involved in this project suggest a new figure; one that has close ties with a tech-geek, but retains a coolness that goes with creativity and originality. They are the artists of today and quite possibly the future of art, so I can’t imagine anyone better to offer us their take on art history’s greats.

The exhibition is original and masterfully curated. It’s a shame it is showing for such a brief period. After Sunday 13 March Remastered will move online; a progression that will unfortunately strip the majority of the works of much of their power.

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