In/Out Fest

Using the Processing language, an image of da Vinci’s La Jaconde – the most reproduced image in the world – is corrupted over time. With each conversion between image formats, a frame is recorded. The title coyly references Marcel Duchamp’s 1919 readymade.

Simulations of reality are prevalent in the video games and cinematic effects that substitute for the immersive space once offered exclusively by painting. As mental landscapes adjust themselves to these new realities, painting offers a visual language established through historical precedent that favors contemplation.

Interaction with digital technology is, for most of us, an important part of our everyday experience. The post-industrial economy has shifted the worker from the factory to the office desk, from the lever to the mouse.

In an age of almost exclusively digital reproduction, the last bastions of analog recording are visibly fading. In recent years, Kodak has imploded buildings previously dedicated to paper operations, signaling not the timely death of the analog, but rather its deliberate annihilation.

With what fidelity are we reproducing our environment? What impact does the pixelization of the visible spectrum have on our perception? Lossy compression reduces file size by sacrificing pixel fidelity for an approximation, for pre-determined patterns.

YouTube’s phenomenal popularity is unhindered by the poor resolution and low sound quality of the site’s (massive) video archive. This speaks to a wetted appetite for content, story, meaning over glamour, high production value, and form. In the context of our everyday experience becoming increasingly mediated, we must to ask ourselves: how lossy do we want our reality?

“Visual culture of the modern period, from painting to cinema, is characterized by an intriguing phenomenon: the existence of another virtual space, another three-dimensional world enclosed by a frame and situated inside our normal space.”
Lev Manovich, An Archeology of a Computer Screen
NewMediaTopia. Moscow, Soros Center for the Contemporary Art, 1995

Many modern painters actively use digital photographic sources for photo reference, even painting along side their computer screens. The “live model” is in this case dead, frozen in screen-space even before it is observed by the painter. The subject-object relationship implodes as the artist involves themselves in an act of media translation. The artist’s mark is left on the image like artifacts in JPEG compression.


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