Just down the road from the under-administration HMV, David Jablonowski’s assemblages offer another sort of testament to digitisation and defunct technology. Dotting the gallery floor, the main works consist of irregular, layered stacks of high-end consumer goods and industrial materials: aluminium coated fibreglass, offset printing presses in slab-like polished steel, a flat-screen TV on its back. The young German artist has decorated these objects nostalgically, almost derisively, with the products of a bygone technological age: a lolling tongue of Kodak film, for example, or the undulating waves of some transparent plastic no longer manufactured.
Other surface details take the form of puns on digital graphics and interfaces: real metal zips instead of zip files; the corner-curl on a vinyl mat to suggest three-dimensionality – physical objects imitating a virtual aesthetic that was itself designed to emulate physical objects.
Sometimes this sense of circularity feels over-emphasised. The TV monitor, for instance, plays a quick-fire montage of adverts, including corporate footage of carbon fibre manufacturing and images of succulent fruit. Elsewhere, the same, actual carbon fibre is shaped into tall, abstract towers, and a pile of red peppers glistens invitingly. And there are other elements, too, which similarly symbolise nature, or pointedly appeal to a kind of artisanal authenticity: aloe vera leaves, a hammer and chisel, some Baroque music softly playing – all deployed rather too neatly, too obviously ironically.
Still, this sense of artifice is part of the point. Projected against the back wall is an advert for Shell oil, with close-up shots of glossy droplets rolling across Naomi Campbell’s skin – a reminder, or perhaps a warning on Jablonowski’s part, of the way that digital culture inexorably seeks to turn everything in the world, even our own bodies, into mere surface, into a kind of depthless, deathless image.