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New traditions - An exhibition of modern folklore

Laidler, Paul



The New Traditions on Modern Folklore exhibition seeks to merge echoes of ancient lore with the pulsing grind of contemporary life, inviting select artists to contribute visions of this "future-past" through conventional and experimental interpretations of what constitutes folklore today.
Paul Laidler's contribution 'Reiving the Wilder Mann, After Charles Fréger,' is an experimental vision that explores connections between folklore, family history, and A.I., highlighting iterative processes inherent across these domains. The piece celebrates imperfections arising as stories and cultural knowledge reshape over generations, mirroring how A.I. evolves by incorporating new data. Significantly, the work addresses complex relationships between data scraping in A.I. and perceived notions of theft by drawing a controversial parallel to the artist's descent from the Border Reivers, clans known for stealing, whose oral histories were preserved after documentation was destroyed. Incorporating architectural Pele towers used by Reiver clan heads alongside European folk costumes referencing UK diversity, the artwork situates itself on "borderlands of tradition and innovation," fusing generative A.I. processes, family legacy, and cultural aesthetics to merge ancient narratives with digital iterations.


Laidler, P. New traditions - An exhibition of modern folklore. [Inkjet print on cotton]. Exhibited at The Island, Nelson St, Bristol BS1 2BE. 20 June 2024 - 23 June 2024. (Unpublished)

Exhibition Performance Type Exhibition
Start Date Jun 20, 2024
End Date Jun 23, 2024
Deposit Date Jun 11, 2024
Keywords Trace Graphic
Public URL
Additional Information The artwork 'Reiving the Wilder Mann, After Charles Fréger' explores the connections between folklore, family history, and A.I., highlighting the iterative processes and associations inherent across these domains. Folklore, with its oral transmission of information from person to person, celebrates the imperfections and anomalies that arise as stories, skills, and cultural knowledge are reshaped and built upon through generations. Similarly, A.I. systems iterate by incorporating new data into their knowledge base, continuously evolving, and adapting to new information – often with glaring visual imperfections and anomalies. The work Reiving the Wilder Mann, After Charles Fréger also addresses the complex relationship between data scraping in A.I. and the perceived notions of theft. For instance, the generative A.I. process has been trained on a sample of Charles Fréger's photographic series "Wilder Mann," which documents European folk costumes. This deliberate creative act initiates an intriguing, albeit controversial, parallel with the family name Laidler, descended from Laidlaw and the Border Reivers." The Border Reivers, from whom my family name descends, were clans who lived in the border territories between Scotland and England and engaged in reiving or stealing. Subsequently, much of the Reivers' historical documentation was destroyed by the English crown, leaving the stories to be passed down through oral history and folk traditions. And the reiving doesn’t stop there, the image also references the design of Pele towers, fortified dwellings that served as defensive structures and symbols of prestige for clan heads during the Reiver period. By incorporating these architectural elements, the aesthetic costumes of folk traditions from various European identities (used here to highlight the cultural diversity that exists within the UK today), the work may be best situated within a dell of derivatives on the borderlands of tradition and innovation or toward a frontier of digital folklore.

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