Parallel Visions: Carolyn Frischling
“Parallel Visions” refers to multiple interpretations and is merely an introduction to Carolyn’s work. This current body of work provides an introduction for those not acquainted with the socio-historical impact of abstract art on cognitive psychology and digital art.
In “Digital Art (World of Art), third edition,” (Thames & Hudson reprint 2015), art critic and curator Christiane Paul explains how and why digital art has been conceived to “demarcate an invisible yet physical space.”1 As abstract, conceptual and minimal art were a reaction to the narrative qualities of figurative art, digital art has always aimed to undermine the boundaries between innovation and the remains of certain academic standards and traditions.
Donald Kuspit’s essay “The Matrix of Sensations,” published on Artnet (2005), indicates Impressionism, Pointillism, Abstract Art and Constructivism as milestones of Digital Art, and compares the transition from “objective” art to digital art to Duchamps’s Nude Descending a Staircase. Here, an evanescent female figure seems to be trapped in some sort of inter-dimensional interference while walking down a staircase. Indeed, according to Christiane Paul, “Digital art questions the authenticity of a work of art and its location in space and time.”2
Digital Art is also intertwined with Dada, Fluxus, kinetic art, Futurism and Conceptual art, thus its origins can be traced back to Duchamp’s Rotary Glass Plates and Moholy Nagy’s kinetic light sculptures. Paul explains: “Some artworks try to translate qualities of the virtual world into the physical environment; others strive to map the physical in the virtual; and yet others are aimed at fusing the two spaces.”3
Carolyn’s work in this regard aims to encapsulate a moment of history: that both digital representation and Abstract art are emblems of our emotional detachment from reality. Abstract shapes tend to be detected first by our perception, and then by our consciousness, as an undefinable yet familiar manipulation of the basic structures of matter. However creativity is drawn to the conceptual aspects of subjective interpretation. In Carolyn’s work the dichotomy between form and interpretation evokes both the origins of the universe and a perceived need for self-isolation of the post-atomic era.
Another element that inevitably comes to light in Carolyn’s abstract juxtapositions of space and volumes is the connection between art and society: our artworks today are, indeed, a reflection of our social and psychological needs just as much as the hunting scenes depicted in the primeval stages of our evolution or the angels of the Middles Ages were projections of our anxieties and uncertainties.
Nowadays the main concern of both artists and intellectuals embodies their urge to resolve the issues produced by the concepts of “individual and collective identity.” Frischling’s abstract digital prints and videos are conceived to erase the echoes of any human activity or presence; as such, she has figured out a way to flatten the differences between real and virtual, two-dimensional and three-dimensional. Her works are an invitation to establish a renewed connection with our true selves in a dimension where art is meant to be impermanent while coexisting with the object of its representation.
In the work “Quidditas/Unknowable 3”, for example, volume and color are the absolute protagonists. The space they are immersed in is not secondary to what’s happening in the foreground: this unique three–dimensional effect, which almost resembles the solids and voids of the human body, evokes a desire of the artist to turn her perception into a more tangible version of it.
Returning to the symbiotic interaction between form and space, the background is two-dimensional, metaphysical: if we compared one of these works to Francis Bacon’s “Lying Figure with Hypodermic Syringe” (1963), we’d have to admit that in Carolyn’s work there’s a net boundary between form and space, while in Bacon’s work there’s no apparent logic in the exchange of information between two-dimensional and three-dimensional forms. Carolyn’s art can also be compared to the work of William Latham and his biomorphic manipulations.
Another experiment that might be useful for a comprehensive analysis of her work, would consist of turning one of the main subjects of her compositions into photographic negatives: imagine transforming the work “Synthesis 2”, for example, into a work of Charles Cohen where the subject is blank; then focus on what we were used to perceive as the main subject of our composition: what do you see? The artwork has been deprived of its three-dimensional qualities while maintaining its conceptual integrity. Even the movements and bright colors that we would normally associate to a wide range of positive emotions appear to have been attacked by one of Nechvatal’s viruses. During this “process of partially aware/partially subconscious extraction and manipulation of the true essence of form,” the subjects of Carolyn’s work have been confirming and denying their own identity and purpose at the same time. What lies beneath the surface of this perceptual contradiction? The artist refers to the superficiality of pop culture, which can’t subtract itself from indicating the “other side of the coin.” In an equation where: form = the identity of an artist, Carolyn’s work implies the reinterpretation of a certain preexisting information, a kind of “encrypted transcription.”
“Anthropocentrism” as applied to our nihilistic need for alienation and destruction, can obliterate even facial features, the equivalent of eluding any trace of human presence in a work of art. Although Carolyn’s subjects are not human, these abstracted forms could be associated to an antithetical desire to embrace a reality where everything is dislocated and nameless. In Carolyn’s work the psychological and sociological aspects related to her ambiguous transfigurations of reality are also emblems of the coexistence of pain and pleasure, typical of any interaction between two or more entities provided by a complex neuronal system. According to Alex Forsythe, when a work of art is too complex, it “results in a kind of perceptual overload”3. However when its content is easy to read, the work is perceived as pleasant.
In the works of the series “Graffuturism” and ”Oneiros”, the level of complexity depends on the viewer: these shapes can be interpreted either as a random juxtaposition of forms and hypothetical contents, or as an intricate sequence of algorithms that find their roots in the subtext of a feasible reality.
Carolyn’s work incorporates a superimposition of layers conveying the intersections between individual and collective consciousness, and their role in defining the mechanism of today’s society through a combination of perceptions announcing their transit into the physical world.
– Deianira Tolema
1. Paul, Christiane (2015-06-01). Digital Art (World of Art) (Kindle Location 2627). Thames and Hudson Ltd. Kindle Edition.
2. Paul, Christiane (2015-06-01). Digital Art (World of Art) (Kindle Locations 969-970). Thames and Hudson Ltd. Kindle Edition.
3. Kat, Austen (2012-07-11). Get the Picture? Art in the Brain of the Beholder. New Scientist.
Simoom from Carolyn Frischling on Vimeo.
Please view my Room Five at Panther Modern, the first virtual museum built by the artist avatar LaTurbo Avedon.
Washington University in St. Louis MFA in Printmaking 1993
New York University Publishing Institute
Grinnell College BA in French
Institute de Touraine
Artslant Prize 1st Showcase 2016 Juried Award in New-media
Artslant Prize 5th Showcase 2015 Juried Award in New-media
Irene Pasinski Sailor and Richard Waichler Memorial Award, Associated Artists of Pittsburgh Annual Exhibition at Butler Institute of American Art, June 2015
Multiple[x] Complejidad Y Sosotenibilidad, dx5 Digital&Graphic Art Research Facultad de Bellas Artes Universidad de Vigo, Spain, 2015
Studio Visit, vol. 27, 1/15
Mobil Masters Proof, eBook launch, Macworld 2014
Carolyn Frischling, ArticulAction Art Review, 11/14
Carolyn Frischling's Dynamic Work Brings Printmaking Into The Digital Age Beautiful/Decay Magazine 2/10/14
Associated Artists Annual at Westmoreland is a respectable reflection of regional art 7/30/14
A Conversation with Mobile Artist Carolyn Frischling 6/26/14
When Abstract Becomes Concrete: Budmen and Frischling Project Creates “Actualizing Abstraction” with 3D Printing 4/16/14
Saltzy Selfies - Around 100 Image Makers 2/29/14
Grabado Digital de Carolyn Frischling 2/11/14
Digital printmaker wants work to impart a sense of well-being 10/16/13