Solo Show: Levels (works on paper)
Created using a unique process of rubbing clear double sided tape on colored charcoal / pastels and then collaging several layers of the now colored translucent tape to create subtle effects of pixellation & hue shifts. This series of drawings are inspired from level maps of 8-bit video games and paying homage to the traditions of geometric abstraction and color field paintings.
The series is a result of the endless automatic repetition of similar gestures—pressing, rubbing, and cutting—before the rectangular traces are assembled as a single abstract composition. What might seem as a big departure from Menon’s earlier complex video and installation work still bears a strong connection to the realm of digital culture. Visually, the collages resemble the level maps of the vintage 8-bit video games. Some of the works even contain the small black marks that reference the game art directly. Besides, the traces of paper’s texture create an impression of pixilation. The elements of the works are all copied and pasted patterns that follow the logic of sampling and remix where the artist’s intuition and the element of chance are both crucial for composition. However, the series as a whole might also be seen as a variation of just one pattern that evolves in front of the viewer’s eyes like John Horton Conway’s Game of Life, absolutely on its own.
The algorithmic aesthetics of the collages brings up the notion of code as a rule for converting a certain piece of information into another form or representation. As one of his big inspirations, Menon mentions Daphne Oram’s revolutionary work in electronic music and her technique of “Oramics” that allowed for “drawing music.” Menon’s collages contain the rhythms, as even they are ready to be fed through Oram’s sound machine. As such, they, however, challenge the literal correspondence between a sound code and its visual representation. The series encourages the viewer moving beyond the representational paradigms, to where a code is no longer a convertor that transforms the information patterns in a different form. Instead, by tricking the viewers into playful decoding of what looks like readable sound patterns, the series of Menon’s collages gives birth to the inexistent, unseen or unheard—coming from within the machine.
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