Painting, contemporariness, and the post-analog

Despite advances in technology, for the time being, the physical act of painting persists. Painting remains always on some primal level the hunter in the cave smearing red clay on the walls, offering a representation of the hunt, the prey, the chase, and the fall as a way of marking, even screaming, “I was here”.

The genesis of art history remains fundamentally relevant to this day. The act of painting remains a way of marking “I was here, now and at this time.”

What is “this time”?

This time can and only can be now; the present, the contemporary.

Painting is therefore at it’s core an assertion of temporality and knowingly or unknowingly an inquiry into the contemporary.

Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben interprets the contemporary as an experience of profound dissonance. He states that to be ‘contemporary’ is to experience a state of proximity with one’s temporality. “Contemporariness is, then, a singular relationship with one’s own time, which adheres to it and, at the same time, keeps a distance from it.  More precisely, it is that relationship with time that adheres to it, through a disjunction and an anachronism.” Grossly simplified, the contrast between the old and the new is how the contemporary can be identified and observed.

I’m interested in ideas relating to the contemporary, the juxtaposition it requires, and the evidence of the contemporary in art and visual history. Further to this, I’m interested in the ways that changes in technology, and the impact of that technology on culture marks the relative contemporary and how that has and can be reflected through the act and outcomes of painting. The tools, the materials, the approach, the hand, the marks are all an indication of information processed through the “black box” of the artist.

What can an artist, this black box, be but the product of the influences and environment of her time. It is for this reason that art critic Robert Hughes once said “all art has been contemporary”.

Curator Mohamed Salemy said in 2015 that  “this idea of conflating old and next technology is itself not a new strategy in art, but given what is considered old in our time and what the new technology is of our time doing so looks a very distinct way. This post-millennial approach is becoming referred to as “post analog”. The post analog encompasses the current position and tension between digital culture and analog tools and culture.

This tension is the starting point for my current painting work. That point was the choice to reverse engineer and transpose that way in which I work with digital imaging methods, tools, hardware and software back onto a “traditional”, studio-based series of easel-crafted, oil paintings.

The formal aspects of the these works originate from a very different position that could possibly have been taken in even recent past years. They germinate in the digital and are then manifested in the analog. However, and unlike some artists working with the post analog I am not attempting a trompe l’oeil reproduction of digital effects. I’m mining the more fundamental and metaphorical — let’s say “poetic” — aspects of process, system, and binaries.

I’m reverse engineering which might actually be about looking backwards in order to look forward.