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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Artist Profile: Laura Brothers

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slip ohno, 2011

Browsing through your work it becomes clear that iteration is an important part of your process. In one of your more recent works, titled cathy drawl, you create six versions themed around the same formal elements. How does the process of iterating around a particular element contribute to your work?

I assume that the way in which my work is normally viewed is through the action of scrolling. You’re on a computer and you are gliding the images in succession past your gaze. I liken this to a sort of super slow motion film strip. It’s a way of storytelling. For a post, each individual image is viewed in relation to the one that comes before it and the one that follows. Meanwhile, they are all sort of floating in an endless black space. There’s no real clear-cut definition between the images in this context. So to me, within each post, each distinct image is really part of the same piece; the same story. In the case of cathy drawl, it was a matter of showcasing the underlying elements of the images and then building on them; transforming them like characters in the panels of a comic. I find the basic formal elements of the images to be what dictates the inclusive mood of the more elaborate pieces so I tend to want to pull them out and show them in isolation but still in conjunction with the compounded imagery. It’s usually about trying to find a gentle balance within my work for how the principal imagery is rendered; spreading from a subdued minimal execution to an overkill of maximum complexity.

In truth, the iteration is also largely a result of my tendency to want to post too much. The blog began as ...

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