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The Crack Magazine


Josie Brookes: View from Nowhere

So we’re semi-isolated, frequently masked and busy surviving a pandemic – that’s no excuse to stop making prints! Indeed, the hands-on element of manipulating medium and support to create multiple images also involves levels of concentration, skill and foresight that really must be therapeutic, even if we’re just admiring the end results. Trek down to Ouseburn and the multi-functional Northern Print studio and you can do just that, by enjoying (for once, really the correct term) a new body of work by Josie Brookes, whose range in illustration, print, animation and graphic design covers most of the significant bases. For “View from Nowhere” her chosen technique involves screen-printing and risography, and I can well understand why. These abstract images have been developed from the original animated visuals she created in collaboration with Tom Madge of Animatecity for the official music video for “The View from Nowhere” from the album "Flight of Ideas" by Warm Digits: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-v_zD0hrQc)

It’s a belter of a song, but the lyrics pop a surprise once you realise that lines about alienation and keeping a distance relate to the mid-century approach to psychotherapy, requiring the therapist to remove the ‘self’ from their view of the patient. The face of vocalist Emma Pollock flickers between and onto the dazzling traffic of shapes and colours that may promise patterns but effect transitory collisions as they mesh and pull away from each other.

Developing these flickering marks into prints has meant pinning them down, but screen-printing involves printing each colour as a separate layer (as does risography , where the printing is done by a unique type of Japanese digital duplicator first manufactured in 1980 – not a lot of people know that.) So layer upon layer of geometric shapes and graphic gestures can both articulate the surface and float above it, like aspects of personality that can’t be suppressed yet are tugging apart, defying a coherent definition. The results are tense, sharp and exciting, with something of that sixties vibe which screen-prints so often carry with them. Despite the shapes having been literally cut–out for the making of the 2-D stop-motion animation, the prints are characterised by not so much by sharp boundaries as by a gestural sense of unexpected movement, which the artist describes as messy energy. With colour stroked, screened, dotted and dashed on, that’s a pretty positive mess.

Josie Brookes: View From Nowhere, Northern Print, Ouseburn, 15th Sep - 16th Oct.

To conclude their 2021 tour, Warm Digits will be appearing at the Cluny on Dec. 16