Vanessa Hodgkinson: Techno Primitivism

Vanessa Hodgkinson, Hand of a Thief, 2012, egg tempera and gouache on wood, 80cm
Vanessa Hodgkinson, Hand of a Thief, 2012, egg tempera and gouache on wood, 80cm x 130cm (approx.) (courtesy of the artist)

An essay by David Trotter discussing the concept of "techno-primitivism" - that which "draws back from the technological only in order to get a better grasp upon it" - first in the literature of D.H. Lawrence and then in the paintings of Vanessa Hodgkinson.

Trotter writes: "Encountering Vanessa’s work has encouraged me to wonder what techno-primitivism might mean for painting now, rather than literature then... The point of it all is to ask of technology the sorts of question that only works of art can ask of it. We might think of the techno-primitivist work of art as a kind of anti-skeuomorph. A skeuomorph is that memory of the ancient built into the design of the modern for the sole purpose of making the modern seem less modern than it actually is. An element of structure reappears as decoration... Given the pace of technological change, it wouldn’t stretch the point too far to consider such decorativeness as an invocation of the ‘primitive’ for the purpose of reassurance. Techno-primitivism is against all that. It wants rather to exploit any available slack in the system which has long bound the technological to the primitive: machine to body, surface to edge, film to inscription, fast going to slow, dazzle-camouflage to the stench of decay. Techno-primitivism likes nothing better than to get a good look at such distinctions by turning them upside down..."