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Thompson’s practice investigates the role of digital documentation and production within the contemporary art world. His works highlight the implications of experiencing art works through the screen as opposed to in the gallery; questioning the commonly held dichotomies of original/copy, subject/object, and materiality/immateriality.
By far the most common way to experience artworks is through their online documentation. This shift not only moves away from the physical gallery space as being the natural home for artworks, but also away from the gallery website. By far the most popular method to engage with images of artworks is through social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as blogs, such as Tumblr. The social function of these websites coupled with their decentralised position away from the power of art institutions means that the spread of these images has accelerated massively.
This has several implications on how we experience artworks. Firstly, given that these images can be accessed by using an ever increasing array of software and hardware, in sizes and resolutions that vary drastically, are we really viewing perfect reproductions of a photograph, or rather new original performances?
Secondly, given the role of active users with web 2.0 sites it is no longer possible to differentiate between artist and viewer. Each user can, and often will, edit images that they find to create new versions that diverge from the original work. In this instance documentation images act as quasi-objects, activating each subject by virtue of being used; in order to become a subject within the online network one has to participate. This participation, whether by cropping, editing, or curating, creates a constant stream of new original images that can no longer be seen as purely being copies of an original.