This exhibition is an opportunity to look at Liquid Villa (2000) by Jeremy Blake alongside more recent artworks by Jeffrey Baij, Petra Cortright, Chris Coy, Sara Ludy, Rafaël Rozendaal, and Travess Smalley. By bringing these works together, the exhibition will draw out shared concerns that have been obscured by the passage of time and Blake's tragic death.
Liquid Villa shifts between lucid, crisp dream architecture and colorful, blurring abstraction, unsettling the viewer between pictorial depth and flatness. These shifts take place from moment to moment, but also within particular scenes. For example, the dark alcoves in his dreamlike villa feature glowing orange torches with jagged edges, suggesting (on a pictorial level) the amorphousness of flame, but (on a material level) the low-resolution artefacts of a too-large digital image. Such passages function in a way that is analogous to facture in painting: as traces that point back to the process by which the work was created. Thus, Blake's "painterly sensibility" incongruously leads him to call attention to his use of digital tools.
The other artists in this exhibition, all younger than Blake, inhabit similarly incongruous positions, although they often are not presented as incongruities at all. For her work Dream House, Sara Ludy translates the architecture seen in a recurring dream into a rendered 3D model. With sterile surfaces and mathematically perfect lines and shading, the model somehow conjures a sense of a genius loci, an oneiric intensity akin to Blake's own work. Chris Coy, who conducted an email exchange with Jeremy Blake as an undergraduate in 2006, makes work that draw on cultural sources including uninhabited architectural spaces from the children's cartoon "The Real Ghostbusters" and the color-coded emotional tone scale used in Scientology. Jeff Baij also makes work that is rooted in appropriation, drawing on and manipulating images from a wide range of sources to make new still or moving image works almost daily. However, in contrast with the high-fidelity, slick imagery found in Coy's work, Baij's serial production revolves around simple digital effects and an aesthetic rooted in degradation. Rafaël Rozendaal presents two lenticular paintings in the exhibition as well as a website installation. In Rozendaal's work, the abstractions could be said to refer to a distinct tradition from that of painting, one rooted in the very technologies of image reproduction that have provoked repeated existential crises in the painting field over the years. Travess Smalley describes himself as painter while using a continuum of tools, both digital and physical. Smalley's past works include a range of physical objects as well as works for the screen, often making use of collage and drawing on online visual culture for inspiration. Like Blake, Smalley uses color fluidly to activate the senses, finding transcendental potential in the mundane visual register of the corporate web. Smalley is creating a new screen-based work in response to Blake's practice for this exhibition. In Petra Cortright's works, the seemingly conflicting traditions of painting and digital art are confidently and simultaneously put in play. Produced using Adobe ImageReady, a now-discontinued graphics program that allows a user to "paint" with a computer mouse or other input device, Cortright's low-resolution images are marked by both visible "brushwork," streaks of color where she moved the mouse across her onscreen canvas, as well as visible digital pixelation. Cortright also exhibits two prints in the exhibition. In these works, the seemingly opposed categories of digital art and painting come across as opposite sides of the same coin.
Haunted by the perceived failure of geometric abstraction, and fascinated by technologies that are often written off as mundane, flat, and lacking in affect, Blake found in digital abstraction not dystopia, but a "dystopic potential." It is this dystopic potential that is taken up and extended by the other artists in this exhibition.
In conjunction with Liquid Crystal Palace, Blake's Sodium Fox (2005), Winchester Redux (2004) and Berkshire Fangs (2001) will be screening continuously as part of The Standard Projection: 24/7 series at The Standard, Hollywood.
On March 6 Liquid Villa will be shown as a front page exhibition on Rhizome.org.