John Houck is deeply interested in the dialectic between repetition and desire in contemporary technological culture. In recent years, Houck has pursued this enquiry beyond the studio through psychoanalytic therapy, an exercise in remembering which remains one of the only acts of daily life that eschews capitalism and is a means to disrupt photographic repetition. Houck found that affecting memories is more about activating the imagination than recalling facts and data. The necessity of imagination in the act of reminiscence has entered into Houck’s new body of work, invoked by layered puzzles and visible in the new subject matter.
The tension in Houck’s work — ranging from early construction of hobby-kit-styled model drones, to coordinates systems mapped onto landscapes, and in carefully hand-folded aggregate grids — has been the simultaneous resistance to and embrace of technology. His advanced training in programming and architecture allows for a unique position from which he undermines the tools of the trade for his own exploratory means. As a photographer, Houck departs from the monocular vision inherent to the photographic apparatus, forcing a collapse of spatial and temporal relationships within a single image. Furthermore, Houck finds creative potential in the inkjet printer, rather than the camera itself, defining his technical site of production as the split between the two.
The title of his newest body of work, A History of Graph Paper, alludes to the work of 19th century scientist Luke Howard, who pioneered the classification systems of cloud types, and who was also among the first to use coordinate paper in the sciences as a tool to measure and quantify. A History of Graph Paper addresses how we make models of our world to better understand it, and how those models become and then alter our perceptions of the world — how the tools we create in turn create us.
The works in his earlier Aggregates series relate, complex amalgams of digital and analog processes begin with a computer algorithm written by the artist. This algorithm is designed to produce all the possible arrangements of a given number of colors inscribed on grids of varying sizes, which are indicated in the titles. Houck produces a large-scale digital print that he then folds by hand and photographs with a digital camera. This re-inscription onto the camera’s sensor of the original algorithmic printout causes color shifts and unpredictable registration errors. These errors are retained in the final work, which takes the form of a print of the digital photograph that Houck has refolded in a manner that clashes with the folds in the image, creating an optical confusion that mirrors that of the camera’s misregistration).
John Houck received his MFA from UCLA, Los Angeles, CA in 2007 and a BA in Architecture from Colorado University, Boulder, CO in 2000. He participated in the Whitney Independent Study (2010) and Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (2008) programs. Recent solo exhibitions took place at Max Wigram, London, England (2013) Kansas Gallery, New York, NY (2012) and Bill Brady KC, Kansas City, MO (2012). Houck’s work has been included in group exhibitions at Horton Gallery, New York, NY (2013); Marian Goodman Gallery, Paris, France (2013) Redling Fine Art (2013); On Stellar Rays, New York, NY (2012); Luis de Jesus, Los Angeles, CA (2012); Tony Wight Gallery, Chicago, IL (2011); Art in General, New York, NY (2010); The Kitchen, New York, NY (2010); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA (2007); Orange County Museum of Art, New York, NY (2006).
John Houck work is in several prominent museum and private collections including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles.