press release

Trade Winds. Hugh Scott-Douglas Opening: Thursday, October 27, 6-8pm

Casey Kaplan is pleased to announce Trade Winds, our first solo exhibition with Hugh Scott-Douglas, featuring a new series of UV cured inkjet and resin printed canvases and a recent digital video work. Scott-Douglas works from a studio space in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, an urban industrial park with a long varied history of changing roles ranging from naval shipyard to film studio lot. Reflecting on this environment, he began researching the global shipping trade and found a mapping software able to track all thoroughfare of sea transport. Utilizing the capabilities of the program in a manner different from the software’s intent, Scott-Douglas isolates the environmental conditions in each location – which appear as real-time graphemes of lines, arrows, and triangles – by removing all of the boats from the water. Specific to current, wind, and wave directions, these symbols are mapping the shifting conditions of the various trade routes, and become the basis of his artworks in layers of printed ink and resin.

Throughout Scott-Douglas’s practice are motifs concerning an interest in systems of value, and the deconstruction of protocols and symbols. This can be seen in his previous series, such as: Chopped Bills and Torn Cheques (2013-2014), his folded billboard sculptures (2014) and a set of prints derived from the interior workings of watches in 2015. With his latest body of work, Scott-Douglas approaches similar queries.

Guided by a composite image of a thousand global satellites, each composition is an abstraction representing a different commercial shipping route. The individual artworks’ titles, such as YoYo (a journey from Yantlan, China to Melbourne, Australia) refer to the names of these naval thoroughfares. The artworks are created by zooming in on a specific oceanic area and removing the naval vessels from the coded mapping system. In a multi-phase process, the artist creates aerial maps with their own individual color schemes. Then with the aid of an industrial printer, a process akin to silkscreening is employed to render each image in its layers where current, wind, and wave directions are frozen, one on top of the next, as if time has collapsed into a perpetual present.

Alongside the canvas prints, Scott-Douglas presents Shudder, a 2-minute looped, digital video that considers the measurement of an amorphous form, air. With a camera attached on top of an air compressor and aimed at the artist’s studio floor, the compressor is activated and begins to shake aggressively, creating wild gestures within the frame. Filmed also from an aerial perspective, what is experienced is the compressor filling with air in order to reach full pressure. When the compressor reaches its capacity and stops intaking air, the camera for a moment becomes still. In those few final seconds, the viewer can clearly see Scott-Douglas’ studio floor before the cycle repeats and the image becomes amorphous again. From hypnotic blur to splattered studio floor, the video documents the transition of nebulous air into controlled and measured units and imparts a tangibility to that which often goes unnoticed.