Shawn Smith’s sculptures investigate the slippery intersection between the digital world and reality. Specifically Shawn is interested in how we experience nature through technology. When we see images of nature on TV or on a computer screen, we feel that we are seeing nature but we are really only seeing patterns of pixilated light.
For the past few years, Smith has been creating a series of “Re-things.” These whimsical sculptures represent pixilated animals and objects of nature. Finding images of his subjects online, he creates three-dimensional sculptural representations of these two-dimensional images. By building his “Re-things” pixel by pixel Shawn hopes to understand how each pixel plays a crucial role in the identity of an object. Through the process of pixilation, color is distilled, some bits of information are lost, and the form is abstracted. Making the intangible tangible, Smith views his building process as an experiment in alchemy, using man-made composite and recycled materials to represent natural forms.
Employing their characteristic lightness of touch to approach existential questions surrounding such topics as the function of art and politics in society, The Old Boys’ Club advances the notion of the young girl as embodiment of the capitalist machine and the meaninglessness of modern life. This concept, initially put forth by the anonymous collective, Tiqqun, in its 1999 publication, Premiers matériaux pour une théorie de la jeune fille, is a post-Situationist theory in which society is described as submissive to the “figure of the Young Lady.” In their statement, The Old Boys’ Club writes: “Premiers Matériaux… is a controversial essay, insolent and impressive… yet the book doesn’t provide any possible solutions in order to change society. La Destitution de la Jeune Fille tries to humbly define some humorous territory where the Young Lady can be dethroned.”
Micah Ganske’s paintings will give you a headache….in a good way. The unbelievable amount of detail that goes into his often large-scale paintings is absolutely a testament to his passion and dedication to the subjects he addresses. Detail doesn’t even seem to describe the amount of disciplined attention that goes into each piece. In his paintings, which can measure up to 120” x 150”, Ganske will draw in every window on every building and every car. In another painting, a giant tripod supporting a tiny digital camera in the foreground has such smooth gradation on the metal, you know exactly how it would feel if you could reach into the image. The result is something that demands attention.
Once you get over the amazement of how much visual information he provides the viewer, (a process that takes a fair amount of time) the signification of the layered symbolism begins to appear. Ganske explains that he wants “the world that [his] work exists in to be a streamlined synthesis of all visual stimulation [he] has ever taken in; nothing sacred, all sources brought down to the same level.” Once all on the same playing field, Ganske imprints his opinions about the way people interact with the natural world and the technological world. Most recently, Ganske is currently pursing a body of work titled, Tomorrow Land, which combines both a disappointment in the broken promises of mid-century technology, and a hopefulness borne from knowing that certain individuals are still devoted to exploring new frontiers and changing the way we think about the world.
Now that i’ve covered spooky looking kids why don’t we enjoy the work of British painter Mary Jane Ansell who has stepped it up with her series of teenage girls complete with glossed over sinister looks in their eyes.
Polish photographer Pszemek Dzienis portraits use fashion industry digital manipulation techniques to create subtle and naturalistic effects his photographs operate somewhere between reinforcing and unsettling received notions of beauty.
From far away, Anthony Sneed’s unique brand of Minimalism instantly calls to mind the reductive elegance of Dan Flavin–or the boisterous, hypercolor modernism of Sol Lewitt’s recent work. However, on closer inspection, Sneed’s seeming hard edged “paintings” reveal themselves to be three-dimensional scultpural works; Modern tromp l’oeils of sorts. Sneed’s work amalgamates the conceptual framework of the Minimalist tradition with Op Art’s investigation of the relationship between illusion and picture plane, movement and depth, reality and perception. In this sense, Sneed’s work calls to mind Tony Smith’s geometrical modules, in his capacity to create drama through simplicity, scale, and revealing what is not there.