Dan Tobin Smith's triumphant show celebrates colour-coded clutter

Date
16 September 2014
Reading Time
2 minute read

I have no idea who Mr G.G.Hines is. And yet I am standing surrounded by junk staring at his black leather passport holder. I am transfixed by it; lost in reveries about who he was, where he travelled to and what his handwriting – neat, confident but not fussy – says about him. I am also wondering how his passport came to be here, and the answer to that begins with Dan Tobin Smith.

The photographer’s new installation is inspired by sci-fi writer Philip K. Dick who termed the endless clutter that builds up in the course of our lives as “kipple.” The first law of kipple – which lends its name to the show – is that “kipple drives out non-kipple” and this certainly seems to be the case in Dan’s east London studio, where the path through piles of colour-coded clutter is very much in the minority. The kipple has taken over the main floor space; it has colonised the window sills and snakes up the stairs and off towards the toilets.

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Dan Tobin Smith: The First Law Of Kipple

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Dan Tobin Smith: The First Law Of Kipple

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Dan Tobin Smith: The First Law Of Kipple

It’s a study of chaos and order – or rather chaos made order – as Dan has painstakingly rearranged the vast amounts of objects sent in after his public call for kipple. The colour-coding is so accurate – with hues segueing almost imperceptibly into each other – that it seems for a second like it might be an elaborate hoax, where Dan and his team have assembled white goods and simply spray-painted them.

But look closer and the scale of this artistic achievement becomes clear. You don’t so much look at the piece as gorge on its details. A copy of Fifty Shades Of Grey, a statuette of a hedgehog, an ornate gravy boat, a slinky and a mini menorah all crop up in a small two-foot stretch from green to gold.

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Dan Tobin Smith: The First Law Of Kipple

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Dan Tobin Smith: The First Law Of Kipple

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Dan Tobin Smith: The First Law Of Kipple

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Dan Tobin Smith: The First Law Of Kipple

It’s amazing how quickly your mind starts to try and make sense of it all, creating connections and suggesting narratives as a coping mechanism. It’s fun to let your eye rove and your brain starts telling its own story; from an electric pink cowboy hat, to a feather boa to a boxing glove – a hen-do turned nasty perhaps?

Last week I stuck my neck out and said this would be one of the best shows of the London Design Festival. I was wrong, or rather I was too cautious. It’s one of the best shows of the year.

The First Law of Kipple is at Dan Tobin Smith Studio, 52c Whitmore Road, N1 5QG. It runs until 21 September.

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Dan Tobin Smith: The First Law Of Kipple

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Dan Tobin Smith: The First Law Of Kipple

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Dan Tobin Smith: The First Law Of Kipple

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About the Author

Rob Alderson

Rob joined It’s Nice That as Online Editor in July 2011 before becoming Editor-in-Chief and working across all editorial projects including itsnicethat.com, Printed Pages, Here and Nicer Tuesdays. Rob left It’s Nice That in June 2015.

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