The Taxonomy of Imitation

Artists John (Polski) Ryaner
Genre Video
Edition Survival 21
  • video, 480’00”, since 2018

John Ryaner’s video shows a closeup of hands crafting fishing flies loops for the duration of the exhibition. The edited footage taken from online tutorials becomes a departure point for the analysis of the dissemination, repurposing, recontextualisation and appropriation of the moving image. In an accompanying voiceover, the artist situates the video within the specific temporal context of this exhibition while analysing different aspects and conditions of viewing filmic works that playfully appear in front of our eyes as we watch. In the accompanying text Ryaner suggests that the man creating fishflies tutorials with thousands of views actually sits in his house in Scotland, unaware of their presence at an art exhibition: The footage in the exhibition looks the same as the footage on a computer screen but does not act the same on a social level, and is therefore not the same footage, even though it is. The title of the work itself seems to carry a contradiction: how does one create a taxonomy – or a hierarchical classification – of imitation? What makes one greater than the other? Or perhaps it is about what an image is capable of doing rather than its relation to what it represents? Repurposing and recontextualising the moving image, Ryaner explores how the context and conditions of viewing impact the way what we see works on us.

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