Sunday, October 18, 2009

Slice of Life

Yesterday I appeared on a panel hosted by trendwatch site Flavorpill and design critic Frances Anderton about Jay Mark Johnson and his latest show at the ACE gallery. I was happy do do it, since I see a lot of bad digital art on the job, and I think that Johnson's work and the audience's reaction shows how it successfully presents a point of view and speaks to lived experience. As a rhetorician, I also like to hear the way that he speaks about the images as commentaries on shared public space, mobility, and violence to the environment. Joining me on the panel about SPACETIME was high energy physicist Barry Barish, art writer Shana Nys Dambrot, and artist and author Christopher Finch, whose expertise ranges from Jim Henson to Chuck Close.

I had been discussing Johnson's work, which is created using slit-scan photography, with Lev Manovich, who is also working with x=time images that combine information visualization with traditional representation of objects. Unlike Muybridge's work that presents motion studies as a series of discrete frames, Johnson's images are characterized by the morph that has replaced collage and montage in much contemporary imagery. Barish was scandalized that the art critics weren't engaging with the temporal dimension of the images and could only apprehend them spatially or engage with the scientific questions about perception that they raise. Finch and I agreed that what was compelling about the images, however, was often their use of existing conventions and genres such as landscape and nude, so that viewers inserted perspective and vanishing points in the images that weren't really there.

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