In a reprise of a 2005 exhibition* about the media, I will be showing a selection of paintings from a series entitled, “Illusions of News”, at the Associates’ Pop-Up Gallery in Alexandria’s Torpedo Factory, now through Oct. 19, in Studio 12, next to the main stairs.
Inspired by the movie, “Network”, the original series began as a response to news events but became more focused on how the news frames and filters information to draw in viewers without actually contributing to a meaningfully informed citizenry. We are awash in a sea of information, as media technology seeks to engage our attention through a constant stream of images. How to absorb, digest and understand the incessant barrage?
As we plug in our various screens, certain stimuli are devised to evoke measurable changes in blood-pressure. Through these portals we vicariously witness the horrific, suffer the righteous indignation of political opposition, are spell-bound by the outlandishly stupid and enticed or repulsed by the prurient and lewd. We feel the odd torque of emotions wrought by the juxtaposition of the dangerous with the helpless as we are shown a lion playing with a baby gazelle, or a pit-bull licking a kitten. We succumb to the soporific calm induced by the heart-melting tenderness of tiny animals. Lured by easy consumption, our attentions are reduced to ratings data, as our every click and tic is recorded and plugged into the overarching algorithm.
To make a painting is to slow down the process of seeing, to internalize the visual by reclaiming the image for oneself as a new object. Generating something with one’s own hands is to externalize one’s ideas, to have a physical confirmation of thinking, and through that process, more fully understand the profound difference between a vicarious contrivance and actual lived experience. Painting is a manifestation of authentic human thought.
* The original “Illusions of News” exhibition took place at Redux Contemporary Art Center in Charleston, SC, December 2 – 31, 2005.