Art on the Underground has announced a new commission by British artist Benedict Drew. Playing with the language of advertising, the new video work will be displayed on digital screens on the London Underground network. It will be accompanied by an audio piece comprised of ten tracks, available to download for free from the Art on the Underground website.
The work, titled ‘de-re-touch’, has been created in direct response to London Underground’s unique public environment and will be embedded amongst the cycle of real adverts displayed on the Underground’s digital screens. At only eight seconds long, the work acts as an interruption to the quantity of adverts and images we experience on a daily basis. Playing between a lo-fi aesthetic comprised of layers of handwritten text and paint marks that scrawl across the screen, to floating computer-generated imagery, ‘de-re-touch’ explores the way digital interfaces change how we interact with the world around us. A close-up shot of an ear, a throbbing fist and flashing text including ‘body image’, ‘touch’ and ‘photoshop’ reference the culture of image retouching and the mass of bodies we encounter both as Tube passengers but also in advertising.
To accompany the video, Drew has created an electronic and experimental audio piece available on the Art on the Underground website. Designed to listen to while travelling, the album acts as a soundtrack to the way we encounter the busy Underground network. The video and audio works reference his wider interest in our relationship to an increasingly sophisticated digital world and how our daily lives are mediated through digital interfaces.
Drew works across video, sculpture and music. He has a substantial background in experimental music that dates back to his time at art school in the 1990’s, having worked more recently on projects with Café Oto, Resonance FM, London Musicians’ Collective and many musicians including Tom Chant. Benedict Drew is featured in the British Art Show 8 (2015-2017), a touring exhibition that offers an overview of the most exciting contemporary art produced in the UK.
‘de-re-touch’ launches with a live performance by Benedict Drew at Aldwych disused station.
Benedict Drew said: “This work comes out of my thinking about the Underground as a site where real bodies and advertised bodies co-exist. I want to explore these two conditions where the real bodies cooperate much more than their mediated equivalent”.
Eleanor Pinfield, Head of Art on the Underground said: “We are delighted to be working with Benedict Drew on our first commission for the digital advertising screens across London Underground. Benedict is one of London’s most exciting artists. This new work is an extraordinary response to the Tube environment. Benedict has captured the intensity of feeling we all experience on the Tube, surrounded by bodies. His experimental soundtrack creates a wholly unique way to experience travelling across the city. Benedict Drew’s commission is a mark of the ambition of Art on the Underground, showing how unique collaborations with artists can create extraordinary artworks for everyone.