SHOW STUDIO – FASHION REVOLUTION – NICK KNIGHT @ SOMERSET HOUSE
SHOWSTUDIO – FASHION REVOLUTION – REVIEW
I made a posting on this before ‘SHOWSTUDIO – FASHION REVOLUTION – COMEDY CASTING’ – a brief one of me doing a video casting at the exhibition. Thought this should be followed up by a more in-depth look at this show.
I must confess to not being the biggest knowledge on fashion photography. I love some of it, but in the past have found a lot of the images out there quite bland, obvious and purely about commercial selling without having much creative flair to boot. In recent years, I have tried to look at it with more open eyes and analyse exactly what is going on in this very creative side of Photography. I do like fashion and when a photographer applies an original mind to this genre – the results are amazing.
Nick Knight is one of those fashion photographers that I guess everyone has heard of and quite rightly so. He is no doubt a genius at what he does – his images are punchy, original and beautiful. What is more, he actually manages to capture the essence of fashion and the clothing yet retain a creative approach to his images. (And, incidentally, his non-fashion personal work is lovely – check out his work ‘Flora’).
Not surprising then, when his SHOWstudio project took over the bottom floor of Somerset House for the Fashion Revolution show – it was an amazing and interactive place to visit. Described by themselves as:
…a retrospective of nine years of online innovation, invention and creation.
This seems to give a good account of what you could see. Following in the footsteps of the SHOWstudio website, the exhibition attempted to throw the usual expectations of fashion, art, photography and video on its head. More like a full on assault of the senses with images, video, instillations and a whole host of interactive elements.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF SHOWSTUDIO
Established by Nick Knight in 2000, SHOWstudio was created as an online organisation, aimed at pushing the boundaries of how fashion is communicated. It has pioneered fashion film and is one of the leading lights in this new medium and collaborates with some of the most influential and acclaimed figures of contemporary fashion, including John Galliano, Kate Moss, Maison Martin Margiela, Comme des Garçons and Alexander McQueen. It has blurred the lines between fashion, photography, film and art.
For a full idea of what they do, check out the site at: www.showstudio.com
For me, there were a few stand out elements to the show which, for me, were the clear highlights and made this exhibition so unique…
As you first entered the exhibition, you were confronted by three huge monolithic sculptures of supermodel Naomi Campbell, created from a 3-D rendered image captured during Nick Knight’s Spring 2007 Naomi shoot. A touch sensitive computer panel let you graffiti over these white body casts, creating anything from clothing to abstract shapes. Naturally a high percentage of the contributions seemed to involve rude dawbings!!! The figures could also be drawn onto via an online interface, so anyone in the world, provided they had internet connection, could graffiti Naomi and the results appear ont he figures in real time.
Check it here: http://www.showstudio.com/project/fashionrevolutionnaomi/
You may have already seen my comedy casting in the previous post, before that, I recorded a “normal” one, before realising exactly what the casting was:
A small room contained a video camera where visitors were encouraged to do a casting to appear in one of Nick Knight’s photoshoots. The set up was simple, with a computer asking basic questions and the sitter answering to camera. These films were then captured and put onto the website for the world to view. Obviously the results depend on the sitter and they range from interesting to dull and funny to shit! I suspect my own effort is both dull and shit! It’s worth looking through the films on the site, if for nothing else, just to see how people react in front of a camera in this situation.
Check it here: http://www.showstudio.com/project/fashionrevolutioncasting/
Perhaps the most inspiring and revolutionary piece at the exhibition was the opportunity to watch fashion shoots live. The basic set up was a medium sized studio space, kitted out with all the expected equipment and at one end, floor to ceiling – wall to wall, one way glass. This meant you could see the photo shoot happening but they could not see you. I was lucky enough to go near the end of the exhibition and see Nick Knight himself doing 100 portraits for ID magazine. It was addictive viewing – like Big Brother but with substance! Getting to see Knight’s working method, how his assistants worked with him and the general set up and feel of a top level photo shoot was amazing.
I was particularly suprised to see how calm the whole thing was. From film and media – I kind of expected to see an Austin Powers type shoot, or like a scene from Blow up. I guess the media stereoptype wins through as we are so unused to seeing fashion shoots live. That’s where this part of the show really wins through and fills the brief of SHOWStudio so well. It allows viewers to witness a true behind the scenes aspect of the world of fashion photography readdress their stereotypes and perhaps start looking at this genre as a genuine form of art in its own right.
All to often fashion photography is written off (as is fashion itself) as a true form of artistic expression. For me, the live studio totally cemented my view that fashion photography is increadibly diverse, sersious and creative and deserves upmost respect. Knight was a pleasure to watch work and a great inspiration I’m sure for anyone interested in getting into this field.
Sadly, this show has now stopped. I kind of wish they could find a permanant venue and always offer people the opportunity to see the full range of SHOWstudio’s creations, as well as benefit from aspects like the ‘Performance’ Live Studio.
In the meantime, however, I urge you to check their website and see the full range of joy that is on there:
http://www.showstudio.com/project/fashionrevolution/ – Fashion Revolution site
http://www.showstudio.com/ – Show Studio site