The installation was open to the public from the 1st to the 31st March 2016 at the ‘secret’ tunnel connecting the Trent and Portland buildings (University Park).
For almost 150 years, barbed wire has been used to demarcate a whole range of human spaces, many of them closely related to mass violence and conflict. For a number of reasons, the human eye seems to have got used to overlook a relevant piece of modern technology that has remained essentially unchanged despite the many ways in which its symbolic meaning has evolved over time. This exhibition is intended to make that familiar artefact unfamiliar. It aims to become a collective exercise of unconscious, silent training, through which visitors will be encouraged to notice, expect, or even intuit the very existence of a piece of material culture that has managed to invade our daily life in a subtle, almost invisible manner.
Photographs, as modern everyday media, have been a major subject of debate. From Walter Benjamin and Roland Barthes, to Susan Sontag and Ian Bogost, many contemporary thinkers have studied the way in which these peculiar technological artefacts reproduce and change our perception of the world. Nowadays, photography has become so common that we tend to forget its huge potential power to challenge our perception of mundane objects and their cultural meaning. Drawing on the latest theory on objects and materiality, we will invite visitors to perceive photographs not only as a passive form of mediation and representation, but also as active elements that offer an alternative lense through which seeing and thinking a specific object and its cultural and political significance.
This series of photographs is formed of around 80 pictures taken since May 2014 in different locations in Brazil, Cuba, Czech Republic, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, United Kingdom and the United States. For purposes of simplicity and agility, all the pictures have been taken with Retro Camera, a popular app for Android and iPhone that provides a number of pre-defined sets of vintage filters. More specifically, we have used The Bärbl, which is defined as “an East German classic, naturally faded with a scratched film and medium vignetting, the perfect all-round choice”.