Samara Scott’s works are neither image nor objects, neither figurative nor abstract. They are recognizable things arranged in an unfamiliar order floating in a foreign substance. To gaze into them, whichever their aspect, is to be caught by someone else’s attention to strange things bought cheaply and hastily to feed, clean, satisfy and service human bodies. Rosalind Krauss wrote retrospectively about Rauschenberg’s combines as ‘a refus-al to use the autographic mark of conventional drawing […in] his insistence that [it is] the stuff of lived experience – the things one bumps into as one moves through the world – that forms experience.’ Unlike Rauschenberg’s consumables, Scott’s assemblages reveal how otherworldly ours have become. Each one has a different hue, brighter, bolder, less natural, more lurid than the last. Attention grabbing bits and pieces plucked from supermarket isles, undressed from their packaging and interned in neon groupings pique our attention. The process of consumerism is de-layed, as the odious stuff of swift consumption is made opulent and extraordinary.
All attention is a commodity now, economists tell us, bought and sold in strange new ways. Its supply is constant because we are always paying attention to something. Tim Wu notes, ‘If we think of attention as a currency, we must allow that it is always, necessarily, being “spent”. There is no saving for it later….’ Attention grabbing the business of catching us during the ‘in-between’ moments of the day, as Wu phrases it. Scott insists that her work is not a critique of capital, but it is a glut of cheap consumables, grabby, bright, sparkling stuff, penetrating, penetrable, fertile, fetid, distilled and suspended, co-opting Wu’s ‘in-between moments’ as a time and space for reflection (in spite of the smell). Her work has a future evolving from its precedents, in the dual histories of porous, fluid pictures and sculptures on the brink of an image.