A Paper-Made Motorcycle Is Revving Printed Media's Exhausted Engines

Sourcing images from magazines and almanacs, Chris Jones compiles hundreds of images to recreate quotidian objects entirely out of printed paper.

by Andrew Nunes
Nov 28 2016, 5:10pm

In Search of Liberty, Chris Jones, 2016. Images courtesy of the artist and Marc Straus Gallery, New York

As images have become predominantly immaterial, the feeling of a book or magazine picture has become something precious, possessing a tactile and sensual quality that digital images can't physically recreate. Creating 3D image-sculptures made almost exclusively out of magazine and almanac cut-outs, artist Chris Jones takes this facet and amplifies it exponentially, his work acting as the ultimate antithesis to the digital image. For his ongoing solo exhibition at Marc Straus Gallery, a motorcycle, a free standing ‘tower,’ and a series of apartment reliefs made of re-contextualized printed images fill up the gallery’s ground floor.

Chris Jones Installation View

Jones’ use of printed images doesn’t stem from a desire to be contrarian; the artist has a genuine appreciation for outmoded media: “I’m keen on the obsolete—encyclopedias and reference books have been superseded by the internet, so all of these millions of moments that sit in these pages are now not only displaced, but also redundant,” Jones explains to The Creators Project.

In Search of Liberty (detail), Chris Jones, 2016

In this sense, printed media acts like a near limitless archive to the artist just like the Internet is to everyone else, populated by innumerable universes to be explored and manipulated. “I think of the photographic image as a kind of parallel world—miniaturized, frozen, displaced. I’ve always found them very unsettling,” reveals Jones. “The fact that they tended to be printed on paper added a paradoxical level for me—I could crumple a mountain, rip a galaxy. It gave this virtual space a flimsy physicality that I was interested in playing in.”

After They Had Left, Chris Jones, 2016

Although he uses hundreds of different images for each work, the end result ends up closely resembling the object it is modeled after. The motorcycle In Search of Liberty has a pair of wheels with rims, red side panels, and metallic exhaust pipes. The tower Of Vanished Alphabets possesses many rooms and façades that are all architectural in origin.

Of Vanished Alphabets, Chris Jones, 2016

Jones’ works aren’t just an assortment of images cut-out in the shapes of recognizable objects, but calculated combinations of layered building blocks that reveal quotidian forms. “At a certain point in the project, it became important to me that I appropriate the forms I was going to work with, as well as the images used to make them, so that I’m not sculpting so much as exploring an existing thing,” tells Jones.

Where Memory is Traded, Chris Jones, 2016

The artist’s process begins with an enlarged model of the structure he is creating: “I use the blown up paper model as a blank canvas, initially working on top of it with random layers of images, then the layers get more and more localized and mimetic as they build, so the final layer is suggestive of the surface of the depicted object,” the artist adds. “I still like to leave gaps revealing the original layers, as these random moments are important as they often suggest advances in the next stage, which is a kind of excavation of the object mixed with a sort of free association re-allocating of the various parts.”

Chris Jones' work will be on view at Marc Straus Gallery in the Lower East Side until December 11th.


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