The exhibition ‘Consumed’ by Luke Batten is a light-hearted look at how society and popular culture consume our emotions and influence the decisions we make.
It pays respect to some of the more influential artists of the 20 Century, who also depicted the effect consumerism and popular culture have on society.
From the artist…
I happily admit to knowing very little about the who is who of modern pop culture. If you showed me a picture of a current famous Hollywood family I would probably struggle to identify anyone by name. The last time I truly checked in was the 90s, where shows like 90210, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Baywatch were all happening. My work is littered with metaphorical language and references that many people can and probably will misinterpret.
But viewers are entitled to find their own language. A diamond is a diamond, but it could mean so much more: love, power, status and wealth. A cassette is a cassette, but it can also be a reference to nostalgia, technology and evolution.. One reference is Pamela Anderson who is an easily misjudged individual, she has her own story and it is fascinating to learn about. In this body of work, she represents manifestation and how if you channel positive energy towards a thought it can come true.
I don’t know much about modern pop culture but that doesn’t mean my life isn’t influenced by it. With so many forms of social advertisement, it is so easy for us to become a part of a trend without even knowing it. The term ‘viral’ says a lot. You don’t seek out a virus, you contract it, involuntarily. Suddenly a figure or a phrase or an image entirely unknown to you is at the centre of worldwide fame. In a time of disposable, transient ‘celebrity’,. a question I repeatedly ask is have we lost touch with the romance of a by-gone era?
The body of work Consumed is supposed to ask that question and others of the voyeur, When was the last time you wrote a letter? Or a thank you note? When was the last time you read a book or magazine? The National Geographic references littered throughout the collages ask, “Will there even be print magazines in another 10 years?” Once the go-to resource for educating yourself about the wider world, would today’s generation bother to search for a current issue when they can just Google it? Yet with the easiest access to the greatest amount of information we’ve ever had, we seem more inclined to put our blinkers on to the things we don’t want to hear about.
There is an alarming amount of pollution on the planet with 1500kg of rubbish washing into Australian oceans every hour. Our food is wrapped in plastic and served on polystyrene and yet because it is convenient we continue to consume. We’ve become hedonistic, lazy and unfortunately fat, as we turn a blind eye to the content of sugar in our food. There are references to the pollution epidemic through my work, with pieces featuring collected rubbish and some cheeky digs at high sugar content products. If those pieces of found rubbish didn’t end up on a painting I wonder where they would have got to?
In one piece, there is a reference to a Tärno chair. This reference came from a gutter in Marrickville. I don’t know the story behind it and it could be harmless. For example, the manufacturer could have packed it into the box passing the responsibility to the consumer to dispose of it. The consumer could have placed it into a bin, passing the responsibility to the rubbish collector who placed it in the truck and was oblivious that the wind got a hold of it. Who knows the true story about that piece of paper? The aim is to make you think.
Slowly, slowly you catch a monkey and change is a progressive thing. I acknowledge this and don’t want the work to come across with an overly grim outlook. The rubbish features are a reference for thought. They certainly are not a dig at capitalism as we would not survive without it. I want to provoke and question our actions. I want us to ask ourselves if we are going about things the best way.
In order to maintain a lighter tone and a pleasurable aesthetic I have used colour to evoke emotions. We’ve achieved so many brilliant milestones as a species and the colour is a fun reference to our happier side of life. The bright colours also pay homage to the artwork of the pop-culture movement and artists I have always admired with affectionate nods to work by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg and Sigmar Polke.