Always-Already a Ghost: Laura Brothers featured on Net Art Hell

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Laura Brothers, come and be real for us (Dec 25, 2007). Detail area of 803 x 840 digital image.

Artist Laura Brothers, whose work was included in the online exhibition "Brushes" (co-presented by Rhizome and the New Museum as part of First Look), is featured on the newest installment of Gene McHugh's podcast, Net Art Hell.

Brothers has been posting her images to a LiveJournal blog under the moniker out_4_pizza since 2007; in his podcast, McHugh tracks the visual progression of the images through the evolution of Brothers' style and content. He points to the use of cut-and-paste image appropriation in the earlier work: imagery drawn from 1980s television, imagery from the past 40 years of rock music album cover culture, and other imagery that Brothers refers to as "timestamped." Building on this exploration of temporality, McHugh adds that the LiveJournal platform is itself dated, which emphasizes the datedness of the image content. In addition, the chronological structure of the LiveJournal feed allows the viewer to understand how Brothers' practice unfolds over time. As artist Giovanna Olmos noted in the Brushes panel at the New Museum, scrolling is a new narrative form.

Brothers' newer work is still inspired by timestamped cultural imagery, but unlike the earlier clearly appropriated collages, it alludes to its sources in loose, gestural abstractions. This style can be seen in the recent posts Cake Walk Howl (posted, according to LiveJournal, at 24 September 2015 @ 03:42 pm) and Alfredo Frenzy (posted 10 September 2015 @ 04:40 pm), which have Brothers' signature pixelated texture, but refer more to expressive sketches and figure drawing than to specific timestamped cultural images.

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Mapping Landscape Paintings: Joe Hamilton's 'Indirect Flights' on the front page

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Joe Hamilton's Indirect Flights is on the front page of rhizome.org through Sunday, as part of the ongoing online digital painting exhibition "Brushes," presented by Rhizome and the New Museum as part of the First Look series.

All of the works in "Brushes" are paintings made on the computer and shown primarily online. The exhibition focuses on works that are derived from an artist's bodily gestures, rather than those that are derived from code-based practices. In the case of Indirect Flights, the brushstrokes in the work are actually sampled from high-resolution scans of landscape paintings by notable historical figures like Van Gogh and Arthur Streeton. Thus, the gestures in this case were made long ago on canvas, and only later translated to digital form. 

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Jacob Ciocci Paints Outside of the Box

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For his contribution to the ongoing online digital painting exhibition "Brushes," presented by Rhizome and the New Museum as part of the First Look series, artist Jacob Ciocci presents a series of gifs from his New Expressions series. The gifs are viewable on the front page of rhizome.org through Oct 4 and permanently on the online exhibition page. 

The gifs are made by printing material from the internet, gluing, collaging and painting it, scanning the result back into the computer, animating it digitally, and repeating. He has applied this practice to works that are shown onscreen, such as these GIFs, while also creating objects for gallery display, some of which incorporate video projection into the work.

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Between 'Total War' and History Painting: Andrej Ujhazy for 'Brushes'

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For his contribution to the ongoing online exhibition "Brushes," presented by Rhizome and the New Museum as part of the First Look series, artist Andrej Ujhazy presents a large-scale (70MB, 15120x7560 pixel) digital painting created in Adobe Photoshop, presented as a png file that can be viewed or downloaded here.

 

Detail of Andrej Ujhazy, congress of the sarmatian women by the black sea to dissolve the amazonian tribes and withdraw from history, aug1 333 (after Total War: Atilla™).png (2015), Photoshop painting, 15120 × 7560 pixels. 

Andrej Ujhazy undertook this work while playing a video game from the Total War series that features massive armies fighting in grandiose landscapes during the late Roman Empire. Ujhazy set out to make an epic historical painting in the traditional sense, drawing inspiration from the videogame and from the underlying history it represented, but working from a contemporary cultural reference point. The tribe Ujhazy was playing in the game was the Sarmatians, a central Asian people for whom women played an important role in warfare; they were described by Herodotus as the descendants of Amazon mothers. Thus, the painting was partly an intervention into the narrative of the game and into videogame culture as a whole, emphasizing the role played by women in both.

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New digital paintings by Petra Cortright

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For her contribution to the ongoing online exhibition "Brushes," presented by Rhizome and the New Museum as part of the First Look series, artist Petra Cortright presents two versions of a Photoshop composition titled all_gold_everything.psd: a GIF that cycles through all of its layers, and a video that uses wipes and dissolves to offer a slowly shifting view of the same imagery.

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First Look: Brushes

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This online exhibition features the work of eight artists who paint with the computer and show their work on the internet.

"Brushes," copresented by Rhizome and the New Museum as part of the series First Look: New Art Online, casts light on digital painting at a moment when the practice is gaining more widespread recognition. Unlike works by artists such as Albert Oehlen, who have translated digital gestures and imagery to a gallery context, the works featured in "Brushes"—by artists Laura Brothers, Jacob Ciocci, Petra Cortright, Joe Hamilton, Sara Ludy, Michael Manning, Giovanna Olmos, and Andrej Ujhazy—were created specifically for online circulation and display.

As art historian Alex Bacon writes in an essay for Rhizome, "In a sense, painting has always existed in relation to technology, when the term is understood in its broad definition as the practical application of specialized knowledge: the brush, the compass, the camera obscura, photography, or the inkjet printer." However, if painting has long involved the application of tools and techniques, it has also served another function: it makes technological conditions available for visual contemplation in the gallery. (Think, for example, of Vera Molnár's television paintings, which evoke the visual style of that technology.)

Today, many paintings that are displayed in the gallery are also contemplated online on platforms such as Instagram. This is a widely discussed phenomenon, but what is often overlooked in painting discourse is the role played by works created and experienced on the computer and the internet. This kind of digital painting has existed for decades: for example, the 1970s software SuperPaint already included many features found in modern paint applications. "Brushes" acknowledges this long history while focusing on practices that have emerged in recent years.

In particular, this exhibition highlights artworks that refer back, in some way, to a bodily gesture made by the artist: mouse movements, digitized brushstrokes, or touchscreen swipes. This leaves out the many artists who create painterly work by writing custom code—but despite their shared approach, these artists take diverse positions on questions of process and output.

As the role of painting in the gallery continues to shift, "Brushes" aims to suggest that works produced on the computer and experienced via the browser and the mobile app have an equal place in the medium's discourses, offering a space for contemplation of our technological society from within its complex apparatus.

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Artist Profile: Michael Staniak

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The latest in a series of interviews with artists who have a significant body of work that makes use of or responds to network culture and digital technologies.

Michael Staniak, IMG_800 (2014; image courtesy the artist and Steve Turner, Los Angeles)

Can you describe your process? Specifically, how do you simulate the appearance of inkjet printing that is evident in works like IMG_800, where, encountering a work like this in person, we discover that what at first appeared to be a flat, printed surface is in fact a textured, pigmented one.

Using industrial spray guns, I layer many fine coats of atomised acrylic paint onto my textured surfaces. The stippling of the spray imitates the print dots created by an inkjet printer. To further enhance the effect of a flat print, several layers of paint are applied directionally, causing the texture to seem flat when viewed in person.

Do you find the process to be more important than the object? What is the role of the finished, discrete object for you? In a way, looking you up on artsy and getting a grid of jpegs of works in monochrome, gradient, and stone pattern styles might be the way that many people encounter and become familiar with your paintings.

It is also how I mostly encounter paintings and images in general - on Instagram, Google image search, etc. Seeing a work in person can be a different experience. Often, if I respond to a work, I will take a picture and view it on my device, to get a more realistic impression. As a consequence of the materials and methods I choose, my work consciously engages the viewer in a totally different way in person than on the screen, even though everything will eventually end up on a screen or online.

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