Bob Bicknell-Knight is a lot of things: artist, curator, writer, editor. He self-publishes and edits the publication isthisit?, now in its sixth issue, and additionally acts as director of the online contemporary art platform, also of the same title. But despite the impressive amount of roles that Bob manages to simultaneously enact daily, his output is somehow, always interesting.
Currently exhibiting his first solo show in Copenhagen, State of Affairs is showing until September 2019 in the Danish capital’s Salon 75. Transforming the white cube exhibition space into an aluminium modular extrusion system, more commonly used in office partitions and conveyor belts, the London-based artist tackles some pretty hefty topics. The news and media, data hacking and Mark Zuckerberg take precedent in the show; subjects that are not exactly simple to communicate.
In some of Bob’s most intriguing depictions, the Facebook founder and CEO is imagined as a trophy hunter, posing with a variety of wild game he has shot and killed for recreational purposes. On this series, Bob tells It’s Nice That: “I’m looking into the psyche and moral compass of Mark Zuckerberg. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey stated that there was a year when Zuckerberg was only eating what he was killing, and had a particular penchant for goat meat.” In said interview, Jack Dorsey went onto discuss one of his most memorable encounters with Zuckerberg which entailed being served goat at a dinner party hosted by the Facebook billionaire.
“Zuckerberg is a private person with a carefully crafted public persona,” says Bob. “In public, he preaches about digital transparency and encourages users of his social media platform to share as much information as possible about their daily lives, stating that the world will become more open and connected by doing so.” Conversely, in his private life, the Facebook mogul purchased four houses surrounding his home in 2013 for a total price of $30 million due to fears that property developers would build a tall building behind his home, thus enabling its owners to see into his backyard. In turn, Bob has created a transparent 3D-printed sculpture of Zuckerberg’s home titled Mark’s House in the new show, produced from an in-depth study of Google Maps’ satellite imagery.
The exhibition also features a replica of Mark Zuckerberg’s grey T-shirt that he wears daily, and a custom printed handbag depicting a slogan that was part of Facebook’s ad campaign after the Cambridge Analytica scandal. “Inside the bag,” explains Bob, “is a USB embedded within a gold 3D print of the CEO’s head, containing Bob Bicknell Knight’s Facebook data from the past ten years.”
On top of all this, Bob is also presently taking part in an online residency with Digital Artist Residency. Culminating in a group exhibition at Ovada, Oxford this September, Bob has been exploring a series of dystopic portrayals of the future. The digital paintings investigate apocalyptic video games, where, due to the lack of human intervention, nature has been able to reclaim urban space within the digital world.
“A number of the works depict car graveyards,” says Bob on the apocalyptic works. “Abandoned, long-forgotten cars have become monuments to the virtual users who would have previously inhabited them in the digital space.” In the work, Bob uses in-game photography techniques to “document the degradation of technology and modern life” within game environments. He presents a world not dissimilar from our current reality, the cars, roads and buildings seem relatively familiar. But for some unknown reasons, these relics are frozen in time and space; disused and in disrepair. Let’s hope this speculative future of Bob’s isn’t as imminent as it appears in this digital format.
About the Author
Jyni became a staff writer in March 2019 having previously joined the team as an editorial assistant in August 2018. She graduated from The Glasgow School of Art with a degree in Communication Design in 2017 and her previous roles include Glasgow Women’s Library designer in residence and The Glasgow School of Art’s Graduate Illustrator.