Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Jimmy Cauty's tiny police state

Yesterday I went to launch of James Cauty's Aftermath Dislocation Principle, a square mile of post-apocalyptic landscape shrunk down to 1:87 scale. The model itself is huge - 448 square feet - but the details are tiny.


The landscape is covered in burnt out cars and the aftermath of rioting, but there are no ordinary people. Only the security services are left behind - around 3000 tiny policemen. The population has gone but the state remains. Exactly what has happened is left open to your imagination.

It's a phenomenal piece of work - although one that is bleak as all hell. Everywhere you look there are little dramas occurring, sight gags, and political digs at the likes of Wonga and Foxconn.





Normally the crowd at art openings has an initial look at the work and then ignores it for the rest of the evening. This was different - people kept going back to it. The more you look at it, the more you find. Here's a packing crate Stonehenge.


 There's a few little details will appeal to KLF fans.



Police cars have the number 23 on their roof, of course.


My friend Brian Barritt used to say that it was simple to tell whether a piece of visual work was 'art' or not. If you never tired of looking at it, then it was art. For this reason the work of Banksy wasn't art. It's still great, of course, because it was a giggle and that's entirely valid. But once you'd groked it there was no reason to look at it again.

I'm not sure why, but it's all kicking off at Burger King.



Cauty's obsessional model echoes of the shift that has happened in film and TV storytelling. In the 20th Century, the 'Hero's Journey' story was considered enough to hold people's attentions. That is no longer the case. Now we flock to things that are deeper and far more complex - the so-called '1000-hour narrative'. Examples of this include the complex politics of a series like Game of Thrones, the endless storytelling of the Marvel Universe or the 50-year character story of Doctor Who. For all the concern about our modern attention spans, we've actually become sophisticated enough to want far more intricate and rewarding work - narratives that continue to reveal details the longer we engage with them.

This was brought home when I walked home and passed street art. It just seemed shit in comparison to what Cauty had done. It just wasn't enough.

Here's a film to give you more of a sense of the thing.


ADP V 2 from jimmy cauty on Vimeo.

It's on display in London until October 20th and is highly recommended. You'll find it in the railway arches right next to Hoxton overground station.