PDF is an acronym that stands for Portable Document Format. Developed by Adobe Systems in 1993, PDF files are used for representing documents in a manner independent of application software, hardware, or operating system. As of 2008, the PDF is open standard which means, at a very basic level, that it is free and publicly available as a file format.
The artists included in the show, whose practices travel across a variety of approaches and mediums, have a common thread in their exploration of a specific kind of temporality. The forms are sparse, mutable, and at times, invisible but in all cases, manifest as almost makeshift offerings. Not unlike the actual function of a PDF, the work is positioned to drop off a bundle of compressed information and data before disappearing, degrading, or being re-contextualized.
This notion is exemplified clearly in the work of Matthew Schrader and Talon Gustafson. Both artists use a system of de-constructing and re-building in their process, Gustafson a more makeshift fast paced assemblage and Schrader a considered, deceivingly process oriented organizing. On the other hand, Alex Da Corte’s drifting balloons make the viewer feel late to the game, as if some sort of correspondence kiosk is long since past and we are left with the the dollar store ephemera. Ivin Ballen’s sculptures play off of Da Corte’s dejected contribution by reversing it, taking our cast off relics (namely cardboard boxes, scrap wood, and other studio detritus) and creating permanent memorials. Ballen’s aquaresin boxes, like Schrader’s work, push against our perceptions and utilize a language that is sometimes more enmeshed in the hyper activity of internet culture than reality, making images that feel impossible. Petra Cortright’s contribution is transparent where others are slightly oblique. Her suite of digital drawings build constantly in multiple Photoshop documents on her computer, being saved, edited, packaged away, re-opened, re-worked, and ‘save as’’ed again. We are able to see a process continuously in flux that begins to seem as though it never produces an end product and didn’t intend to in the first place. Melanie McLain’s sound installation ‘Reading I-5’ plays to this same idea, the droning auctioneeresque ramble of McLain attempting to read every word and number she sees on Interstate I-5 is jarring. Presented as a finished product, the four hour track underscores its own futility, McLain has started a task that, in a nation saturated daily with new advertisements, can never be completed.
At the outset, the work in PDF is strangely matched, an almost performative, highly ephemeral inclusion pushes up against archival permanence. In the end, PDF, like the included work, seeks to underscore an attitude before prioritizing its form.