The multi-disciplinary practice of Hugh Scott-Douglas (b.1988, Cambridge, UK) situates itself at the confluence of a number of critical, socio-political, economic and aesthetic observations and investigations. Interrogating tensions between analogue and digital modes of production, he makes use of a wide range of techniques and media, from laser cutting, inkjet printing and photography, to numerical data and satellite mapping software. Across his practice, Scott-Douglas investigates the possibilities and limitations of the production of the photographic image at a turning point in the medium’s history, as it makes the conversion from modes of mechanical reproduction towards digital technologies. While formally elements of Scott-Douglas' visual language resonate with recent developments in painting – particularly the process-orientated vocabulary of conceptual abstraction – his use of photographic media, from the old-fashioned cyanotype process favoured in his early career, to a juxtaposition of digital and print formats, reveals the close relationship his work shares with both the legacy and future of photography.
Scott-Douglas’ work is concerned with systems of value, trade routes and the circulation of currency and commercial goods, exploring and enacting methods of migration, translation and transaction. His practice brims with motifs that reflect upon socio-economic structures and the dismantling of established paradigms and icons of consumerism, as can be seen in several distinct yet interconnected series. The ‘Chopped Bills’ in particular deconstruct the quantifiable value of the image, as well as the power of currency, by magnifying the ink stamps that mysteriously materialise on American $100 bills once they are in circulation. Although it is illegal in the US to scan currency, and software programmes are built without the requisite operating systems, with the addition of the stamps the notes’ appearance are altered and they become susceptible to digital appropriation. Scott-Douglas’ latest body of work, ‘Trade Winds’, reflects on his studio environment – a former naval shipyard in Brooklyn, NY. Using a satellite mapping programme, the artist traces various shipping routes across the globe, creating seemingly abstract works that are in fact immersed in empirical environmental conditions, reinterpreting landscape painting for a globalised audience.