Ed Fornieles: Associations | Carlos/Ishikawa

Ed Fornieles brings together a couple of prevailing themes I’ve been covering on Artangled these last few months. First, the technique of using found photographs in a clever way: see here for similar on Wade Guyton and Jan Hendrickse. Second, responding artistically to the weird phase of lockdown the world’s been in this past year or so: as have Gillian Wearing, Alban Laurent, Thomas Demand and likely many more to be featured in future weeks!

On show at Carlos / Ishikawa, Fornieles shows a series of square-format images, arranged in horizontal and vertical lines, loops and serpentine formations (or, as Ben Burbridge points out in his witty show notes, a shape familiar to players of classic Nokia game ‘Snake’). These chained images are connected, conceptually. Each has to have something in common with its neighbour and its neighbour alone, meaning what’s depicted at one end of the chain is totally different to what’s at the other.

ed fornieles - installation view Dinosaurs & Strange Creatures with Mr. Know-it-Owl, 2021

It’s a sort of six (or more) degrees of separation via Google Image Search, though Fornieles has said the dodgy Russian knockoff Yandex often gives better results. All the images were found while roaming online, in a lockdown-induced ennui. “I got sick early in Covid and couldn’t get out of bed,” the artist explains in one of the ‘certificates’ displayed as part of the exhibition.

“I was tired and indulged in compulsive behaviour… the association work helped me get out of that by sort of harnessing this compulsive energy, channelling that soft zone state into something productive."

This strict structure - according to the certificates, the found materials could only be found via keyword or image search, and only via an online search engine, whether Google or Yandex - leads to some witty results. A fat guy eating a burger at one end of a chain morphs into a cute lizard. Within another, a still of Paris Hilton’s infamous sex tape (guess which bit) leads to a raw frankfurter.

And maybe my own reactions, intrigue or amusement, to these picture-games are meant to be examined. As Burbridge puts it: “The systems according to which two images can be linked together is never intrinsic to those images, but relies instead upon processes of learning and socialisation performed through, with and around our experiences of images.

“Even when systems of association resemble each other, this does not guarantee they are the same.” One man’s frankfurter is another man’s…

Ed Fornieles: Associations is at Carlos/Ishikawa (London). 17 April - 22 May 2021