144

Abstract

144 explores the physical and abstract relationships between sound and image. With prints from the 144 series, digital photographs are intentionally corrupted with a series of audio edits. To do so, each image is reduced to raw data and imported as a headerless soundfile into an open-source audio-editing platform and is processed, edited and exported as an electroacoustic sound composition. Upon export, the composition is then re-assembled as a digital image, documenting the differing interpretations of sound and image within the digital spectrum. I find this treatment of data to be intriguing, especially when viewed as an analogy to the processing of data, memory etc. within the human mind. The question is whether this artificial treatment of data illustrates a parallel or a disjuncture to the treatment of data within ourselves.

Update, 2018

So – it’s been 6 years since I made these things. And in that time, they’ve served as a couple album covers, more than a few desktop backgrounds at institutional offices, artwork for a guitar pedal and the imagery for a couple hundred business cards. In an abstract sense, they’ve had a good run. But, in spite of that – as well as being featured in at least one rendition of my portfolio, they’ve yet to be shown. I suppose I should work on that, yeah? A quick story on how they came about:

In the fall of 2012, things were getting real – Pau and I were about to be married, we just shipped our biennial piece to Panama, Leif and Erika just played Coachella, I also recently parted ways with most of my friends from college owing to a general change in lifestyle and I’d just completed a course on The Profitable Artist, courtesy of NYFA’s MARK bootcamp, which was all about teaching cutthroat art business regimen to upstate New York artists. Having a brief second of downtime and looking towards the future, I started making these prints to apply to a young artists show that was sponsored by a couple of arts organizations in Woodstock, NY, otherwise known as the cultural center of the world to my childhood self. I should probably note that upon analysis, I had a thing for the 60’s for a good long while. I probably still kind of do, most likely. But that’s an essay for another day. Besides, when you grow up outside of THE Woodstock, NY, I suppose you can feel a little privileged. It’s not every town that get to play a pivotal role in the history of rock and roll – and by that, I mean by being the site of a motorcycle accident, a pink house and a couple legendary recording studios. The concert festival happened at a farm that’s nearly 2 hours west of the town. Not to mention that David Tudor premiered Cage’s 4’33” in Woodstock. Can’t forget that.

Anyways, I had a weekend or so free, I was in New York on a “supply run” before the wedding and biennial and I was all hopped up under the influence of Philip Stearns, who at the time was doing his daily “glitch” blog, which was essentially a regular spewing of digitally-altered vomit on various social media platforms, mostly Tumblr. Remember that one? I maybe barely do, other than that after Friendster and Myspace, it was the first to fall. Facebook went shortly afterwards. Twitter stuck around for a while longer while I though it was possibly “culturally relevant.” At this point, I’m more of the belief that most of these platforms are probably the cause of the downfall of civilization as monetized algorithms strip most humans of the potential for human empathy. I mean, who understands friendship better than sociopaths, narcissists and computer programmers? That was a tangent, but hopefully you get something out of it. Anyways, yeah, influenced by glitch art and whatnot and naturally, I decided to give it a shot. It was pretty easy. Take an image file, run it through Audacity, make a bunch of stupid edits and export it as a .raw file. Then open that file in Gimp and convert it to a .tiff and boom – instant art. Toss it up on the web, throw a couple hashtags at it and boom – instant vitality. Or something to that extent. Or at least so I’m apt to remember. I got at least a couple likes from it. Nothing viral, though. Probably for the best. But after a weekend of messing with photos while attempting to slim down on the Master Cleanse diet, I had what I thought was a pretty good start of an extended process piece.

The key word being Master Cleanse. In other words, not thinking straight due to starvation rations of lemons, cayenne and maple syrup. Problem 1 – while these made pretty pictures, there was no process to what I thought was pretty process-derived. Cut, paste and copy intuitively does not a process piece make. Problem 2 – while these made pretty pictures, a cohesive, thematic body of work it was not. And finally, Problem 3 – while these made pretty pictures, they were in no way what the call was looking for. For all essential purposes, most of the visual art of the Hudson Valley is all about landscapes. Seriously. Like Back to the Hudson River School and even before that. You paint the river. Why? Because it’s the biggest thing to paint. River, mountains, maybe some birds and a sunset- it’s all there. Even in the most contemporary of circumstances – for instance, Ragnar Kjartansson’s The Visitors, which was filmed at the Rokeby estate – wanna know how it ends? Yup. Landscape. River. Mountains. Sunset. Some birds. These pieces were not landscapes. Nor did they imply some sort of hidden artistic talent or discipline. And on top of that, they were all sourced from photographs of Big Sur, which is not the Hudson River. If anything, I’d go as far as to say that Big Sur is kind of a competitor to the Hudson for landscape art. Same idea ala terrain and the dominance of nature, but with more moss and beach glass.

So yeah, no piece in a group show for me. The other question that popped up later is how do you even display this stuff? I mean, other than as guitar pedals and business cards and album covers. This is something I have been thinking about – and at the moment, I’m thinking that maybe these would make cool lenticular prints. I’ll get back to you on that, but it could be cool. Or just a bunch of gaudy pretty pictured that change without substance. But then again, that’s kind of what they’ve always been so no harm, no foul. Will keep you posted.

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