Extract investigates image and data circulation as a ubiquitous hallmark of contemporary culture. Works by Petra Cortright, Theo Triantafyllidis, Siebren Versteeg, and Addie Wagenknecht instantiate information overflow through painterly gestures in an effort to translate software into a corporeal experience. Technology as a medium foregrounds this inquiry towards surface abstraction and performative mediation.
Petra Cortright considers attributes of screen-based imagery as a phenomenological encounter. Her paintings thrive off of the dissonance of digital aesthetics situated in physical space. Exhibited works are printed on aluminum and gloss paper, yet do not abandon the authenticity of the screen. Cortright achieves this expression by layering flattened, figurative imagery. Artworks titles, such as www.galaxy.com_aba + personalservice_01.jpg (2018), mimic file naming and web URLs to remind the viewer of the work’s native environment.
Siebren Versteeg’s generative constructs contend with pictorial abstraction through means afforded by digital technology. His compositions are the generated results of a continuously evolving set of algorithms that interact with found imagery. In the artist’s attempt to mime painted phenomena through programming, he is drawn to observe the notion of an image as a constructed circumstance replete with infinite variables. The artist’s code works tirelessly, exporting dozens of web images per day, forcing him to contend with the sheer velocity of this self imposed dustbin of possibilities. On Paintings (2019) presents both the act and outcome of image production in a performative video installation. Images culled in real-time from a Google image search of the word “painting” are downloaded to the artwork. Software written by the artist responds by generating painterly gestures. The result is superimposed over search results and broadcast to an array of screens placed within a studio-like set evoking the nomadic, provisional architecture of L.A.’s downtown region. While the production of images continues ceaselessly, the position and presence of the artist is void.
Addie Wagenknecht examines the collision between elements of painting and technology. The artist reconfigures a Roomba vacuum to paint on canvas as it enacts its preprogrammed algorithm intended to clean. Wagenknecht reclines nude as the Roomba relentlessly attempts to maneuver around her body. The paintings reference Yves Klein’s Anthropométries in which he directs nude female models, who he referred to as “living paintbrushes,” to press their pigment-covered bodies against canvases in front of an audience. In contrast, Wagenknecht abandons the spectacle of the objectified female nude in favor of drawing attention to what is absent: the female form is only acknowledged in the void surrounded by the blue strokes of the robot. Action painting glorified by the Abstract Expressionist movement is reduced to algorithm, executed by a programmed electronic.
Painting (2018) by Theo Triantafyllidis simultaneously celebrates and pokes fun at painterly abstraction. A video work depicting the artist’s avatar, a mighty, blue-haired Ork, is embedded within a large-scale painting. The Ork is in the throes of artistic production as she paints the very artwork in which she is embedded. The artwork narrates the transition from digital to physical—performing its own creation. Triantafyllidis emphasizes the flatness of the digital picture plane, ironically hinting towards qualities of flatness glorified by Modernist painting. The Ork is a necessary mediator for the artist’s presence between physical and virtual worlds.
In conjunction with this exhibition, bitforms gallery continues to present additional works from our program in the adjacent space at the ROW DTLA. Offering an incisive perspective on the fields of digital, internet, time-based, and experimental art forms, the exhibition presents a selection of artworks by Refik Anadol, Daniel Canogar, R. Luke DuBois, Carla Gannis, Manfred Mohr, Jonathan Monaghan, and Siebren Versteeg.