The most recent post on “Schumacher,” a tumblr of Ben and Louie Schumacher’s sculptural work from mid-2009 to the present moment, displays a series of views on an assemblage sculpture entitled Champfleury in which a (most likely faux) marble plinth supports the following three elements:
1. A framed line drawing (in the style of, say, Matisse) depicting a nude woman paired next to a vase of flowers.
2. A series of approximately twelve small, white rectangular objects which one assumes to be the “12 rapid prototypes of iphones found on google 3d warehouse” listed in the work’s media.
3. An unfinished maquette depicting a figure roughly rendered in plaster.
Additionally, outside of this plinth, one views an un-adorned wire dress-form which is hung on the wall in the background.
Now, a place to begin to understand the interaction of these elements is the work’s title:
“Champfleury” is the pen name of the 19th century French art critic Jules Fleury-Husson who notably defended the “realistic” paintings of Courbet depicting beggars and other previously un-represented (or un-representable) subject matter.
His defense of Courbet rested not on politics, but rather on Courbet’s unique ability to paint what he sees in front of him in the world.
Now, if one views these particular sculptures through the lens of an art critic associated with “realism,” a paradox occurs as the sculptures assembled here each work through and around ideas of mediation between real models and virtual simulations, not “reality” itself or at least not reality as Courbet taught Champfleury (for one) to view it.
Models of ipods, models of sculptures, models of garments, models of drawings of nude models and vases; in each of these cases, one is presented a synthetic portal in-between a “real” thing in the world and the creative representation of that thing.
This paradox is only worked through if one is willing to think through the idea that what one sees in front of one in the world right now may have mutated from Courbet’s day (which could be a terrifying idea to think through).
The work—here—involved in a new type of “realism”–a realism premised not on distinctions between real and virtual, but on the mixed reality thresholds between the two.