Research Paper / Practice Discussion



[16/03/2017, 14:27:43] Jason Murray: Russell, was it Nicholas Bourriaud that did something about post-reproduction?
[16/03/2017, 14:27:53] Russell Miller: @jason yep that’s him
[16/03/2017, 14:27:59] Russell Miller:
[16/03/2017, 14:28:11] Russell Miller: Fascinating essay that’s changed my practice
[16/03/2017, 14:28:18] Sarah Robinson: Thank you. I have spent ages trying to fix this. Will succumb to Microsoft probably.
[16/03/2017, 14:28:30] Russell Miller: Also found this one very useful
[16/03/2017, 14:28:31] Russell Miller:
[16/03/2017, 14:28:47] Jason Murray: “An ever-increasing number of artworks have been created on the basis of pre-existing works more and more artists interpret, reproduce, re-exhibit, or use works made by others or available cultural products”
[16/03/2017, 14:30:06] Jason Murray: Interesting, Russell, does a lot of your work largely focus on ‘Appropriation’?
[16/03/2017, 14:30:15] Jonathan Kearney: so Russell is there a danger that the idea of artwork as simply a remixable piece of data a reductionist approach that reduces the material to almost irrelevant?
[16/03/2017, 14:30:42] Russell Miller: @jason i used to think it was about appropriation but now I consider myself a postproduction artist
[16/03/2017, 14:30:47] Patrick Henry: uncanny of the everyday….the banality of evil..
[16/03/2017, 14:31:14] Russell Miller: which means that I’m not concerned about the origin of the image, of commentating on it (like the situationists did) – I’m using it as a form
[16/03/2017, 14:31:18] Russell Miller: U.F.O
[16/03/2017, 14:31:20] Russell Miller: User Of Forms
[16/03/2017, 14:31:54] Sarah Maria Scicluna: does ethics feature in this?
[16/03/2017, 14:32:06] Jason Murray: It’s a good job you clarified, UFO!
[16/03/2017, 14:32:09] Patrick Henry: what leads you to choose a specific image?
[16/03/2017, 14:32:22] Russell Miller: @jonathan that’s what I’m working toward – the artwork as a piece of data to be moved about (as Duchamp moved the bottle rack into the gallery)
[16/03/2017, 14:32:41] Katerina Psimmenou: clever, using it as a form
[16/03/2017, 14:33:15] Russell Miller: @patrick 100’s of hours of consuming then when I find the right still or moving image it’s very clear to me
[16/03/2017, 14:33:27] Katerina Psimmenou: yes what are the criteria for choosing your forms?
[16/03/2017, 14:33:36] Russell Miller: so part instinct and part looking for non-recognisable situations to reposition
[16/03/2017, 14:33:38] David Somers: Isn’t this a bit like digital collage… taking from here and there… remixing… reforming
[16/03/2017, 14:33:52] Russell Miller: @david that’s exactly what it is
[16/03/2017, 14:34:36] Russell Miller:
[16/03/2017, 14:34:46] Patrick Henry: @russell ok so its a gut feeling/instinct, interesting u call it a form, frees the image from previous connotations?
[16/03/2017, 14:34:59] Russell Miller:
[16/03/2017, 14:34:59] Sarah Robinson: Visual Chinese whispers?!
[16/03/2017, 14:35:16] Russell Miller:
[16/03/2017, 14:35:52] Jason Murray: Some of your work, Russell reminds me of this artist. Hang on
[16/03/2017, 14:36:07] Jason Murray:
[16/03/2017, 14:36:12] Russell Miller:
[16/03/2017, 14:36:20] Russell Miller: Yep Lewis Klahr
[16/03/2017, 14:36:25] Russell Miller: Fantastic artist
[16/03/2017, 14:36:51] Jason Murray: I agree.
[16/03/2017, 14:37:58] Patrick Henry: reminds me of jon rafman also..
[16/03/2017, 14:38:06] Terence Quinn: Russell re appropriation. 1870 quote by Lautreamont “Plagiarism is necessary. Progress implies it”. 2011 quote McKenzie Wark “ for past works to become resources for the present requires …. their appropriation as a collective inheritance, not as private property”.
[16/03/2017, 14:38:53] Jonathan Kearney: SarahS asked about ethics, although you didn’t explore this in your research paper, is it something that you consider?
[16/03/2017, 14:39:02] Russell Miller: “Notions of originality are slowly blurred in the new cultural landscape marked by the twin figures of the DJ and the programmer, both of whom have the task of selecting cultural objects and inserting them into new contexts.”
[16/03/2017, 14:39:24] Russell Miller: @jonathan/sarah – do you mean the ethics of sampling?
[16/03/2017, 14:39:24] Patrick Henry: so u r remixing images
[16/03/2017, 14:39:37] Jonathan Kearney: SarahS is that what you meant?
[16/03/2017, 14:40:24] Russell Miller: “To listen to records becomes work in itself, which diminishes the dividing line between reception and practice, producing new cartographies of knowledge”
[16/03/2017, 14:40:28] Russell Miller: “This culture of use implies a profound transformation of the status of the work of art…it now functions as an active agent, a musical score, an unfolding scenario”
[16/03/2017, 14:40:48] Sarah Maria Scicluna: i meant more along the lines of whether he s applying some kind of criteria to the selection of images, kind of like not using personal ones etc
[16/03/2017, 14:41:20] Russell Miller: @sarah – I would never use imagery that didn’t originate in film, tv, comics etc
[16/03/2017, 14:41:26] Russell Miller: I’m not interested in real life
[16/03/2017, 14:41:40] Sarah Maria Scicluna: i see 🙂
[16/03/2017, 14:41:40] Jonathan Kearney: Russell your quote above describes the current context – the DJ and the programmer but we do live in paradoxical times with strong copyright culture and the ‘aura’ of the original still being considered an important idea — does this impact on your thinking and making?
[16/03/2017, 14:42:03] Russell Miller: @jonthan not since I stopped being concerned about selling work or having physical shows
[16/03/2017, 14:42:09] Katerina Psimmenou: so you raise again the question of whether or not this is a work of art – like the role of the dj for example?
[16/03/2017, 14:42:09] Jonathan Kearney: 🙂
[16/03/2017, 14:42:32] Russell Miller: So I see my work has a series of interventions, not final stops
[16/03/2017, 14:42:46] Jonathan Kearney: so Russell the abandonment of concerns of selling and shows has been liberating?
[16/03/2017, 14:42:52] Russell Miller: and my work is available for anyone to take and use as they want – that’s why I put it all on instagram
[16/03/2017, 14:43:12] Russell Miller: @jonathan deffo – I had loads of shows last year and sold a few pieces
[16/03/2017, 14:43:25] Russell Miller: But I’m just not interested in that kind of practice anymore
[16/03/2017, 14:43:28] Sarah Maria Scicluna: everything sort of becomes like one big data bank
[16/03/2017, 14:43:35] Russell Miller: @sarah exactly
[16/03/2017, 14:43:35] sharon bertram: Like mixing and sampling on the decks?
[16/03/2017, 14:43:44] Russell Miller: @sharon exactly
[16/03/2017, 14:43:57] Russell Miller: I see the work of Strassheim and Botz as the same
[16/03/2017, 14:44:03] Russell Miller: taking an existing thing
[16/03/2017, 14:44:07] sharon bertram: Public Enemy we supreme at this!
[16/03/2017, 14:44:09] Russell Miller: rephotographing it
[16/03/2017, 14:44:11] sharon bertram: Were
[16/03/2017, 14:44:16] Russell Miller: to make something ‘new’
[16/03/2017, 14:44:48] Patrick Henry: @russell has anyone to your knowledge used any of your instagram pieces in the same way?
[16/03/2017, 14:44:58] Russell Miller: @patrick I don’t know
[16/03/2017, 14:45:44] Jonathan Kearney: just thinking about instagram – that platform because of the control Facebook have over it and the way you give up your control and ownership?
[16/03/2017, 14:46:19] Russell Miller: @jonathan yep, I don’t ‘own’ the work that I put on there
[16/03/2017, 14:46:28] Russell Miller: I’ve pretty much stopped updating my website
[16/03/2017, 14:46:34] Russell Miller: and put all work on there
[16/03/2017, 14:46:49] Patrick Henry: open source russell
[16/03/2017, 14:46:50] Jonathan Kearney: so instagram rather than your own platform and use creative commons options instead?
[16/03/2017, 14:47:09] Russell Miller: @jonathan yep exactly
[16/03/2017, 14:47:52] Russell Miller: when I stopped worrying about physical outputs for my work (so I could sell it) my whole practice became much more refined
[16/03/2017, 14:48:16] Russell Miller: The irony being that I’m making a massive physical piece for my final project
[16/03/2017, 14:48:27] Jonathan Kearney: 🙂
[16/03/2017, 14:48:50] Jonathan Kearney: also talk about the idea of ‘detective’ – is there something you are seeking to find out, or simply discover, almost stumble over?
[16/03/2017, 14:48:59] Sarah Maria Scicluna: the idea of a proper show and being concerned with selling is very restrictive i find
[16/03/2017, 14:49:05] Sarah Maria Scicluna: so good for you 😀
[16/03/2017, 14:49:46] Russell Miller: “Artist as detective” from my paper is a key insight for me
[16/03/2017, 14:49:54] Russell Miller: Following clues
[16/03/2017, 14:50:02] Russell Miller: seeing where I end up
[16/03/2017, 14:50:10] Russell Miller: viewing 100’s of films as casework
[16/03/2017, 14:50:12] Russell Miller: etc
[16/03/2017, 14:51:19] Russell Miller: Ok I think everyone’s brains are a bit hammered so I’ll wrap it up I think
[16/03/2017, 14:51:41] Jonathan Kearney: but just wondering if detective is correct…
[16/03/2017, 14:51:57] Jonathan Kearney: you are almost describing the idea of an explorer?
[16/03/2017, 14:52:09] David Somers: Art as a journey.
[16/03/2017, 14:52:15] Jonathan Kearney: a detective has a goal, an objective to solve something
[16/03/2017, 14:52:19] Russell Miller: Navigator is probably closer
[16/03/2017, 14:52:44] Patrick Henry: do u need to put in x amount of hours before ‘culture of use’ point has been achieved? or can u feel ok using a ‘form’ u discover straight away?
[16/03/2017, 14:52:53] Russell Miller: But detective appeals more due to my penchant for crime / noir etc
[16/03/2017, 14:53:06] Russell Miller: @patrick time isn’t a concern at all
[16/03/2017, 14:53:10] Russell Miller: so something like this:
[16/03/2017, 14:53:11] David Somers: Inspector Colombo?
[16/03/2017, 14:53:36] Jason Murray: or Morse?
[16/03/2017, 14:53:37] Jonathan Kearney: I think there is a sense of detective in that this space is unknown, the full implications of art in this way are not fully realised and therefore you are finding something, solving a conundrum?
[16/03/2017, 14:53:41] Russell Miller:
[16/03/2017, 14:53:45] Patrick Henry: ok interesting, michael powell/peeping tom feel to some of the imagery on jpeg
[16/03/2017, 14:53:52] Russell Miller: is ‘used’ by opening the book and taking the pic
[16/03/2017, 14:53:59] David Somers: Morse? or I was thinking of the new Sherlock Holmes 🙂
[16/03/2017, 14:54:43] Russell Miller: @jonathan I couldn’t believe that there isn’t a definitive history of appropriation art that’s been written yet
[16/03/2017, 14:55:03] Jonathan Kearney: that instagram links leads nowhere, is that deliberate?!
[16/03/2017, 14:55:04] Patrick Henry: there are books on music sampling
[16/03/2017, 14:55:09] Russell Miller: oops hang on
[16/03/2017, 14:55:14] Russell Miller:
[16/03/2017, 14:55:20] Russell Miller: that one
[16/03/2017, 14:55:38] Russell Miller: and just have a scroll down my page anyway, loads of work on there if anyones interested
[16/03/2017, 14:55:40] Jonathan Kearney: Russell I thought it might have been a detective challenge!
[16/03/2017, 14:55:44] Terence Quinn: You might find this interesting in the context of this discussion –
[16/03/2017, 14:55:58] Jason Murray: @ David I was thinking Marlowe, Marple or Nancy Drew
[16/03/2017, 14:55:58] Russell Miller: @terence cheers I’ll have a look
[16/03/2017, 14:56:13] Leonie DuBarry-Gurr: i like the juxtaposition – you as a detective – but also as a forger of sorts..
[16/03/2017, 14:56:25] Russell Miller: I like this quote “To read, to view, to envision a work is to know how to divert it: use is an
act of micropirating that constitutes postproduction. “
[16/03/2017, 14:56:44] Russell Miller: use is an act of micropirating
[16/03/2017, 14:57:01] Jonathan Kearney: where is that quote from?
[16/03/2017, 14:57:09] Jonathan Kearney: not in your paper I don’t think
[16/03/2017, 14:57:19] Russell Miller: from The Practice of Everyday Life by Michel de Certeau
[16/03/2017, 14:57:33] Jonathan Kearney: of course!
[16/03/2017, 14:57:36] Russell Miller: No I read that afterwards!
[16/03/2017, 14:57:44] Jonathan Kearney: great quote
[16/03/2017, 14:58:06] Jonathan Kearney: thanks Russell, I know you have to get back to work now
[16/03/2017, 14:58:19] Russell Miller: Yep cheers and thanks all for the insights


Final Project – 2017 Update. Slats The Lion, Markov, Marx and Bourriaud


It’s been a couple of months since my last post so I’m pausing my research and production to reflect on my project, to think about the themes that I explored in my research paper, the work that I’ve made over the last few weeks and to look at the context that I’m producing work within.


I’ve previously used the term ‘appropriation’ when discussing my work (the repositioning and subverting of an existing object)…


Duchamp’s The Bottle Rack (1914, considered to be the first readymade).

…but I read Nicolas Bourriaud’s ‘Postproduction: Culture as Screenplay: How Art Reprograms the World’. This essay has really changed the way that I think about my own practice and about how I consume as well as produce during this act of Postproduction.

When Marcel Duchamp exhibited a bottle rack in 1914 and used a mass-produced object as a “tool of production,” he brought the capitalist process of production into the sphere of art, while at the same time indexing the role of the artist to the world of exchange: he suddenly found kinship with the merchant, content to move products from one place to another

I’d never linked the sampling of imagery with Duchamp’s practice of recontextualising an object.

I’m pasting in some key quotes from the essay, some of which I’ll expand on and some I’ll just leave there for my own reference:

Overview of the term

Postproduction is a technical term from the audiovisual vocabulary used in television, film and video. As a set of activities linked to the service industry and recycling, postproduction belongs to the tertiary sector, as opposed to the industrial or agricultural sector. i.e:. the production of raw materials.

How does it relate to appropriation?

…art history is now going beyond what we call “the art of appropriation,” which naturally infers an ideology of ownership, and moving toward a culture of the use of forms, a culture of constant activity of signs based on a collective ideal: sharing

Why is it relevant to my practice?

Notions of originality are slowly blurred in the new cultural landscape marked by the twin figures of the DJ and the programmer, both of whom have the task of selecting cultural objects and inserting them into new contexts.


Every work is issued from a script that the artist projects onto culture, considered the framework of a narrative that in turn projects new possible scripts, endlessly.

The link between DJing and navigating culture

To listen to records becomes work in itself, which diminishes the dividing line between reception and practice, producing new cartographies of knowledge

How narrative is an unfolding scenario

This culture of use implies a profound transformation of the status of the work of art…it now functions as an active agent, a musical score, an unfolding scenario

I’ve toyed with narrative within my instagram posts, accompanying the image with a list of words that impose a loose narrative onto the image.

This “culture of use” transforms the artwork from singular vision to a piece of data that is shareable and remixable

the contemporary work of art does not position itself as the termination point of the “creative process” (a “finished product” to be contemplated) but as a site of navigation, a portal, a generator of activities

we insert our forms on existing lines

postproduction is the scrambling of boundaries between consumption and production

the artwork functions as the temporary terminal of a network of interconnected elements, like a narrative that extends and reinterprets preceding narratives

The act of consuming a piece of culture equates with an act of navigation, itself a work of art.

This led me to read Debourd’s ‘Society of the Spectacle’ and how he describes détournement as ‘not a negation of style, but the style of negation’, namely that the act of diversion should negate the power of / provide commentary on the original artwork.

But Postproduction is neutral, there is no political philosophy that guides the artists work. Rather I see it as a theoretical and practical extension to the The  MGM slogan ‘Ars Gratia Artis’ and my intital proposal to make ‘art for arts sake’, with no other reason than to make art (which in turn is an attempt to decode and understand the 21st century)

The  MGM slogan ‘Ars Gratia Artis’ and the first lion, Slats (1916–1924) who, rather than roaring savagely at the audience, gazed silently out at them, contemplating and reflecting their gaze.

So instead of equating Slats The Lion’s gaze as being out of the screen and onto the viewer, I now think of Slats’ gaze as being mine, the gaze reflected by the light of the screen as I both consume and produce art.

I discussed the act of duplication / doubling in my paper, and how Freud considered this to be an inherently uncanny act. Angela Strassheim’s Evidence series and Corinne May Botz’ The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death both use photography to duplicate, to double an object (domestic spaces where murder has occurred and dollshouses that are designed to train detectives in the art of evidence gathering and interpretation respectively). My own acts of duplication and experiments with narrative certainly exist within the uncanny zone.

So let’s recap the original vision for the project, and the work that I’ve made whilst researching and producing.

To create a sculptural work (let’s call it a lightbox) that changes the imagery displayed within it depending on how the viewer interacts with it. The data that feeds the sculpture (the source being a narrative film created using appropriated footage) and the film will be used to create an online artwork.

So I started looking for this particular moment in cinema that would reflect Slats gaze – a moment where the viewer and the screen meet each other’s gaze



I sampled some moments, treating some as per my previous black works

And looking at other samples, juxtaposing characters who are moving away from the viewer and then returning

But.. After watching 100+ films I found 3 clips that adhered to my self-imposed restriction DOESN’T WORK.I can’t sample the volume of imagery I need to create the piece I envisage and I feel that using such a limited palette is not going to allow me to produce the work that I’m imagining.

So I was stuck, but kept making pieces – starting to mess around changing the context of images by using light shining through / onto them. In some pieces I laid a sheet of glass over the image then used a lamp to reflect / disrupt the image.


And in others I placed the image directly onto a lamp, the light souce revealing both sides of the paper simultaneously in an extension of the ‘auto collage’ pieces I’ve been making


Earlier Auto Collage pieces – these narratives are revealed through the framing of the image through the camera.

I had a studio visit from Dr Ed Kelley, where we discussed this ‘gaze moment’ that I’ve been (mostly fruitlessly) for. We also discussed my recent realisation that I treat still imagery very differently from moving image as I showed the ‘light on / through surface’ pieces. These experiments are with the sculptural, and the capturing of light on the surface of images.

With my collage / redacted pieces I very much interrogate the still image – I’m hesitate working with the moving image in comparison

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Duel 4 #livephoto #telephone #stalker

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But the moving image works that I’ve been working with – even though I may re-edit, overdub, juxtapose I haven’t been cutting into and manipulating the moving image nearly as much as the work I’ve made with stills.

I experimented with splitting the frame into multiples

Ed pointed out during our chat that I could consider the moving image works that I’m sampling as a series of images, as opposed to one moving image.

This simple but laser-precise observation unstuck me.

It connected my current practice back to this piece where (to solve a technical hitch with the code I had to export my moving image sample into individual JPGS

So this opened up my practice, to not to so focussed on a particular type of physical movement within the sampled moving image and to instead broaden out my research to encompass

On the interactive part of the project we discussed whether my idea of the physical interaction of the viewer should influence the narrative / which clips are displayed.

I feel that the interaction of the viewer has been contextualised by my research around appropriation, diversion and postproduction.

Duchamp started from the principle that consumption was also a mode of production, as did Marx, who writes in his introduction to Critique of Political Economy that “consumption is simultaneously also production”

Marx wrote in the same book about how “a house which is uninhabited is indeed not really a house” and I feel that this link to my research paper (the home), the uncanny (unheimlich / unhomely) and the Duchampian theory that an artwork is not an artwork without a viewer (the gaze of Slats the MGM Lion) repostions my ‘lightbox’ idea somewhat.

The same installation, but loaded with still images and moving image, some of them layered, redubbed, subtitled, masked and some untouched apart from the edit – no interference of the frame.

We discussed the technical challenges that I face, controlling multiple screens, 100’s (if not 1000’s of clips and stills, and how perhaps Markov’s Theorem could help me create new narratives using my bank of samples.

The term “Markov chain” refers to the sequence of random variables such a process moves through, with the Markov property defining serial dependence only between adjacent periods (as in a “chain”). It can thus be used for describing systems that follow a chain of linked events, where what happens next depends only on the current state of the system.

So broadly, I can create a narrative framework where it is more likely that say, someone walks into a room after a door has been opened, but not have to plot what the link is between the opening of the door and what happens after the person walks into the room. That way I can impose a very loose story onto the sampled imagery, but still allow for random, unfurling narratives.

I started sampling again, now looking for moments that will become part of my lightbox. I taught myself After Effects so I can interrogate the moving image as I do the still:



I used tablets and screens, juxtaposed stills and images, to get a feel for my final piece being in 3 dimensions

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Murder Test 2 #femmefatale #giallo #voyeur

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Murder Test 1 #crime #giallo #victim #voyeur

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The latest piece I’ve made looks at the rough placements and scale of the screens that will be within the lightbox. I projected this onto the wall of my studio and see the scale of this piece being quite large, perhaps 3/4 metres x 2/3. Big challenges lay ahead in terms of constructing it (absolutely out of my comfort zone working in 3D, let alone building a giant box to house all of the screens,) plus I have to get the actual Markov chain working with Processing

Writing this post has been a really positive (and long) exercise for me. I continually produce produce produce, but reflecting and summing up where I am theoretically, conceptually and technically means that I can plough back into my research with a renewed sense of purpose.

Thanks again to Dr Ed Kelley for unsticking me.