Most days art Critic Paul Carey-Kent spends hours on the train, traveling between his home in Southampton and his day job in Surrey. Could he, we asked, jot down whatever came into his head?
White Cube’s Masons Yard summer show includes six of Martin John Callanan’s striking series ‘The Fundamental Units’. Callanan uses thousands of exposures via a 3D optical microscope at the National Physical Laboratory to achieve intensely detailed (400 million pixels) images of the lowest denomination coins, here printed at over 50 times life-size. This elevation of the near-worthless reveals the construction and traces of circulation invisible to the naked eye. It also has a mournful aspect, as many of lowest value coins (Callanan has captured 16 of the 166 currently in use) will doubtless be withdrawn from circulation soon enough. As you can see at www.greyisgood.eu, Callanan has good form for obsessive projects, such as taking 2,000 photographs of floors in important buildings with restricted public access .
‘The Fundamental Units’ reminded me of a similarly-sourced but psychologically contrasting series : Moyra Davey’s late 80s series of 100 ‘Copperheads’, which concentrate on one coin – the US one cent – to show the range of scratching, rusting and tarnishing inflicted on the most famous American. These, focusing on one national economy at a time of recession – and currently on display at Tate Liverpool during the next recession – become harder to read as the damage tends towards abstraction. But then, isn’t the whole convention of money an abstraction of sorts?