The Snob, our ample art essay and affectionate way of saying we know some of you like to feed on more than crumbs of art.
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NEW MIRRORS REVIEW
By Lynn Maliszewski
A new year spurs the compulsion to reflect. In hindsight, we’ve come to accept life-altering innovations in medical, green, and Smartphone technology as commonplace and necessary. Travesties like identity theft, a meager disadvantage among the massive potential for technological mishaps and manipulations of the systems, expose a less pristine outcome of exponential expansion. In the wake of traveling into this electric continuum, civilization falls prey to technology’s inevitable inclusion in daily life. Exit Art presents New Mirrors: Painting in a Transparent World as a reflection on emergent visual repercussions and deductions based on a digitally informed outlook. New Mirrors searches for the undertones of technology’s infiltration. It explores the implications of technology’s ability to simultaneously blunt and expand our perceptual range as it permeates the individual.
Technology has the ability to pronounce its own necessity in preaching to the enrichment of life. It formulates and latches on to a longing for convenience and a desire to simplify an overtly intricate existence. We anxiously await Apple or Google’s next unprecedented treasure like spectators at a baseball game anticipating an eventual homerun souvenir. We rely on these technologies to anticipate what we need. They bestow and prolong a perpetual hunger for faster and smaller. Robotic insatiability and reliance emerge; the desire to sprint overrides the reasoning of a scenic jog. We devour our strides.
Jesse Chapman obliges and soothes the roving, oversaturated eye. He presents three canvases of approximately two feet high by one foot wide, each entitled “The Hole” (2009). Each canvas contains three rectangular masses poised asymmetrically on two vertical stalks. Hung in a row at eye-level, striking dissimilarities in hue and technique are immediately apparent upon closer inspection. The first of the three easily simmers like steak on a grill, basking in shades of charcoal, Siena glaze, and blood red, resting on a stark bone marrow slaw. Each rectangle, even each rod upon which they reside, pulses in the midst of Chapman’s vivacious, even playful, brushwork. He observes a concentrated, coordinated energy in the ore marshmallows, varying their relation to the rods by disorienting our understanding of where exactly they’re fixed in space.
The second canvas recasts the squares as extremely loose channels, amorphous and reactionary to the shank upon which they grasp. The surface area is a combination between gesturally abstract articulations of paint and an aggressive study of composite color. Whereas in the first image there is a mention of depth when comparing the rectangles to rods, the second canvas heeds to alterations in hue and brushstroke, articulating an encapsulated alteration in space. The background ascends from white to wheat. Three distinct figures emerge, as if feeding off the rods as can be seen in the change in color. The prismatic conflagration dims, the cynically twirking mass unwinds, the sporadic camel patch neutralizes.
The final canvas is confidently convoluted and deciduously green. Prominent loops ensnare the stone figures, ultimately mellowing into intrepid ambiguity. The rectangles resemble fuzzy marshmallows, adhering and melting through the cracks to a ticklish fire below.
The minute differences amongst Chapman’s series will repulse the hasty and captivate the keen. The melding neutrality of the first canvas amplifies an innate momentum to the point of nausea. Alternatively, the second canvas twirls and skips despite opposing forces. Openly painterly and playful, the third canvas congeals volume with gesticulating flatness. In his repetitive confrontation of the viewer’s attention span, he enforces patience in the present and an encapsulated viewing experience. Visual sensitivity naturalizes and allows a complete retention of the image outside of reference. This blissful refuge from the hastening conveyor belt of data encourages an elongated survey of these nondescript parallelograms floating in space.
In having the circumference of the earth at our fingertips, it isn’t hard to trust technological innovations and the magnitude of imagery made available from which to draw reference and interest. The internet is a boundless reservoir of inspiration and knowledge. Streaming stimulation and operational Bayesian inference aggravate a perceived reality from memory, tranquilizing receptivity.
Andy Piedilato’s “ZigZag Brickwall” (2009) unravels ingrained understandings in order to confuse, even disarm, assigned aesthetic behavior. Placed against a hue of purple that could make the Easter Bunny heave, a morose maroon brick wall squirms and surreally protrudes from the gigantic eight-foot canvas, straddling the second and third dimension. The wall remains completely intact as it lurches forward, dropping in and out of the tangibility of perspective reality. In the midst of havoc, an aggressive brute intercepts the brunt of the enforcements. It protrudes assertively, emulating the saucy, chunky regurgitation of a Chinese feast. Flooded with pronounced brushstrokes and imposed texture, the mongrel resembles a demented Sasquatch or an amoebic super-villain despite a lack of any distinguishable characteristics. Near the bottom of the canvas, an oval plot resembles walnut floorboards fused with abstract obstructions; a mystical yellow brick road leads off the left side of the canvas. Piedilato provokes his audience, threatening assumptions with promises of discrepancy and visual demolition. The emergent energy of the collision is captivating, like a ravenous fire cremating any mention of a norm. He unabashedly discards visual presumptions, slaying the realistic diagnosis of space, time, and meaning. Piedilato speaks to the unfolding derailment of preconceived notions, utilizing complete annihilation to procure a renewed and expanded visual stamina. Technology provides the means for a surplus of intellectual theorizing, allowing prospective truths and experiments to play out in real-time. “ZigZag Brickwall” invites viewers to reformulate, thus dispelling the lazy viewer. It is spitefully free-form, refusing to warrant an artificial affirmation as it relentlessly transforms.
Coils of information residing in technology’s vortex may outweigh our individual inclinations. Online resources supplement, if not replace, gathered knowledge; Wikipedia, spell check and IMDB support mental clarity. Julia San Martin’s caricature of technology’s tales of grandeur, entitled “Still Silent Diptych” (2007), contributes a subliminal pessimism to technology’s sensibility. The dominant canvas, measuring approximately ten feet square, dwarfs the free-floating accompaniment of roughly one-twentieth its size. An ominous abyss of fern green, cobalt, and midnight blue in their darkest saturation consumes a majority of the enormous canvas. A horizon line emerges three feet from the height of the canvas, allowing an escape from the dastardly chasm and placing emphasis on appended sewn junctures. The added portion broadens the beige, listless sky. Crisp pulls of now dismantled stretcher bars create an indented frame coming a foot or two in from the exterior of the canvas. Beyond the dimples, the opaque cavity extends crassly on either side and the taupe horizon continues on with mention of darker storm clouds brewing. No longer a signifier of hope, the horizon is a looming divergent, an abolition of clarity. The murky gorge is magnificently menacing, conniving in its congestion of our visual field.
The second component of the diptych opposes the first not only in size but in stylistic quality, shape, finish, and sentiment. Resembling a porthole panorama on a brig to Hell, the same dismal color scheme retaliates with added attention to texture. Wrinkles in the circular canvas drape to accentuate the curves of the sphere, donating a quiet softness despite their static rigidity. Buffed, milky plastic tubes and cardboard serve to enclose the circle in a square. A kitschy materiality and quirky vibrancy arise in the juxtaposition between the virginal gleams of the plastic and the gloom of the seascape. The diptych disrupts and mocks the romanticism of the landscape, an understood ‘beauty’ in visual vocabulary and a staple of artistic composition. In commenting on technology, it exposes a misguided idealization of technology’s luminosity despite the charred wasteland of offensive, misguided, and presumptuous insights. A spectrum of banality resonates from these images, relatable to the plague of countless modernisms with limited functionality. In the age of personalized technology, San Martin emphasizes the superfluity of our consumption as such and stresses that bigger is not always better.
Progressive technologies have adjusted intrinsic perceptual capabilities and visual understanding, quite graciously altering thematic and stylistic choices in art. Jesse Chapman reveals his prejudice in “The Vat” (2007), a topographically diverse environ of rusty craters, pastel peaks, and dreary plateaus. Mythic charcoal canoes flow on the choppy seas in the middle ground, starkly contrasting the desolate chalky snowdrifts in the background. The glacial mesas stoically soar on explicit brushstrokes, assuming a recession in depth despite the perspective instability. Delicately understated vertical pockets of disoriented color impart a subtle yet magnanimous otherworldliness specific to Generation-Y. Appearing on the surface of the image, the tendrils scramble and regurgitate the hues in a fashion similar to a crackling television set or whacked computer monitor. Parallel to the Pointillists’ inclination to explore the partbroiculars of light’s pixilation in photography’s wake, Chapman explores modern technology’s own aesthetic characteristics. The subtle obstructions serve to further accentuate the discrepancies between the High Definition foreground and MS-Dos background. Incidentally, it humors the idea of a gestural object being interrupted by a technological blunder. Considering how potent ‘the Blue Screen of Death’ is to a computationally knowledgeable population, Chapman investigates the fusion of hard-wired delusions and bodily translation. Placed amid the modern context and the influence of technology, the resultant imagery is inevitably unlike anything seen before.
The digital era, conversely, spurns a desire to preserve individuality, gesture, and emotion in order to conquer desensitization. Kadar Brock’s “Antoine Coypel, Democritus” (2009) encourages submission to the intonations of oil paint in its varied viscosity. Brock fuses his own stylistic tendencies with overtly traditional subjects in openly referencing the Coypel original that inspired this image. Despite the simplicity of the reformed Coypel composition, Brock manipulates the pigment in such a way that each component relays a feeling, a distinct statement assaulting the viewer. From the thick, macaroni fingers of globular strength to the grounded brushstrokes of cynical mustard that depict his face, each component is fundamentally what it is and deserves individual meditation. Notwithstanding the ethereal quality of the image, Brock delineates the necessary components of the Coypel original, focusing on Democritus’ activated fingers, diligent eyeball, and languid shrug. Each component stands to contribute an intensified emotive quality to the piece despite the seemingly simplified representation. Furthermore, it contributes a concrete, material accentuation of the tangibility of the present. The internet simulates an arguable parallel in its assurance of custody, of connectivity. We are multi-tasking, distracted, probing spawns of a former humanity; who could possibly finish an email without checking the news, or purchase a book for your mother without syncing up five subsequent tabs? We fasten the lock around our fortress of productivity, an eventually insipid databank of isolation. The only retaliation is recognition of its limits: technology is detached from the palpable reality of human interaction regardless of its ability to describe and assist it. Innovations have made technology smarter, but emotional capabilities will continue to separate us from the sterility of technology’s grasp. Painting, in this revised context, serves to forward emotional stamina in the wake of technological protocol.
New Mirrors provides an array of insights into technology, considered to be “broadcasters of our updated, shifting reality” by curator Herb Tam. Although each artist does not necessarily emphasize a connection to technology, Tam tethers painting to the modern conception of humanity and regards it as a memento of concurrent perspectives. Martin Heidegger, a 20th-century German philosopher, investigates the concept of being in the grander scheme of societal influence. He vouches that ‘being’ is not so much an entity with properties and characteristics, but rather the condition within which a particular entity comes to be “unconcealed.” It is understood that Heidegger’s philosophy requires a historical consideration of the past, diagnosing the assorted causes from which potent ideals arose in that moment at a distance. We can only perceive the suggestion of ‘being’ by understanding all the conditions under which anything like the being in question could arise. The magnitude of technology arises in Heidegger’s desire to obtain a uniform definition of ‘being’ founded on the observation of time-based circumstances. We have accumulated a multitude of unprecedented obsessions that pronounce an extreme generational schism, only further compressing the meaning of years. Technology has thus innately become a component of the way we define ourselves, further indebting us to its clutch. Painting, in comparison, elevates the banal perfection of technology that can somehow make reality seem monotonous (e.g. Avatar). New Mirrors emphasizes “the possibilities and limits of the (visual) experience,” constantly intermingling with the accelerated pace and intricacies of our resultant being.