We are delighted to present Bit Rot, a solo exhibition by artist, curator and writer Bob Bicknell-Knight.
Working in a number of mediums, Bicknell-Knight’s work responds to the hyper consumerism of the internet, exploring ideas of surveillance capitalism, utopian and dystopian ideologies and the digitisation of the self. Bit Rot, also known as bit decay, data rot and data decay, is the slow deterioration in the performance and integrity of data stored on storage media. The process occurs overs many years, due to imperfect insulation on flash drives, floppy disks losing their magnetic orientation and by storing CDs and DVDs in warm, humid environments, causing them to physically and visually rot.
In Bit Rot, Bicknell-Knight exhibits new paintings, sculptures and videos, depicting relics from the past and the present, set in a near future where nature has overwhelmed various forms of technology in a world not dissimilar to our own. The paintings and video works utilise imagery and footage taken from the video game Horizon Zero Dawn. The 2017 game follows Aloy, a hunter in the year 3040, who inhabits a future Earth that has limited access to technology and has become overrun by animal like machines controlled by a rogue artificial intelligence. The works began with Bicknell-Knight wandering through this virtual world, using in game photography techniques to document the degradation of technology and modern life in a number of different in game environments. The in-game objects have become monuments to virtual users who would have previously inhabited them within the digital space. The cars, buildings and roads in the paintings and videos are relics from a future world, with these elements frozen in time and space due to unknown interventions.
The sculptures within the exhibition are real world objects that have been overwhelmed by artificial interventions, from faux grass to plastic flowers, mimicking the digital nature displayed within the game world, created and crafted over hundreds of hours by a small workforce of video game developers.
Within the exhibition the two videos are displayed on and around an aluminium modular extrusion system, used in office partitions and within forms of autonomous production. The films contain footage captured from within the video game, presenting a number of the digital landscapes over a 24-hour period, complete with digital birdsong and running water.
Another series of paintings in the show feature individual flower varieties, captured at different times of day within the in-game world. A series of 24 paintings, each depicting the intricacies of the same digital flower at a different hour in a given day, are available to purchase and view at the gallery’s reception desk.
Bob Bicknell-Knight (b. Suffolk, UK) is a London-based artist and curator working in installation, sculpture, video and digital media. Using found objects and tools made readily available by the Internet, as well as drawing from a unique sensibility influenced by participation in online communities and virtual games, Bicknell-Knight’s work expl ores the divergent methods by which consumer capitalist culture permeates both online and offline society. Utopian, dystopian, automation, surveillance and digitization of the self are some of the themes that arise through Bicknell-Knight’s critical examination of contemporary technologies.
Bicknell-Knight is also the founder and director of isthisit?, a platform for contemporary art, exhibiting over 800 artists since its creation in May 2016. Online, it operates as a gallery producing monthly exhibitions showcasing emerging to mid-career artists, hosting a roster of guest curators experimenting with the medium of the internet to interrogate a variety of concepts. The website also hosts monthly residencies, where artists are given a web page to create new work that exists on the internet as a piece of net art. Offline, it has held exhibitions nationally and internationally and is the publisher of isthisit?, a book series released on a triannual basis.
Selected solo and duo exhibitions include Bit Rot at Broadway Studio Gallery, Letchworth (2020), The Big Four w/ Rosa-Maria Nuutinen at Harlesden High Street, London (2019), Wellness, Ltd. w/ Erin Mitchell at Galerie Manque, New York (2019), State of Affairs at Salon 75, Copenhagen (2019), CACOTOPIA 02 at Annka Kultys Gallery, London (2018), Sunrise Prelude at Dollspace, London (2017) and Are we there yet? at Chelsea College of Art, London (2017). Selected group exhibitions include They Live at Platform Southwark, London (2019), To cite a body at Sluice HQ, London (2019), GROUND ZERO EARTH at Alison Richard Building, Cambridge (2019), Inside Intel at Goldsmiths, University of London, London (2018), Total Power Exchange at Galerie Manque, New York (2018), Paper Cuts at Saatchi Gallery, London (2018), Terms and Conditions May Apply at Annka Kultys Gallery, London (2018), The Museum Has Abandoned Us at State of the Art, Berlin (2017) and The Choice of a New Generation at The Muse Gallery, London (2017).