Our daily experience of urban space is technologically mediated – from the images on screens in taxis, subway stations and streets, to the maps, cameras, and social networks of our smart phones. We use these devices to navigate, document, and share our lives online. In so doing, we participate in the creation of a rapidly changing digital landscape. Responding to this contemporary context, Image Objects brings together the work of seven international artists who share an interest in digital culture and its influence on the relationship between images and objects.
With new works produced specifically for this exhibition, each artist has drawn from source images and used digital means to create new sculptural forms. Alice Channer’s
R O C K F A L L (2015) and Jon Rafman’s New Age Demanded (2015) employ advanced digital fabrication tools to transform images into three-dimensional objects. Other artists – like Amanda Ross-Ho and Artie Vierkant – have created works that directly address the photographic life of a sculpture when it is documented and shared online. As images are rendered into objects and objects are circulated as images, the boundaries between the physical and the virtual are blurred, challenging us to rethink how we see the world around us.
This exhibition is curated by Andria Hickey.
City Hall Park
Broadway & Chambers Street
Throughout her work, Alice Channer has explored the potential of merging digital and physical realms to investigate themes of nature and consumer culture. Using industrial and post-industrial materials, her figurative and abstract sculptures are created with everyday materials like paper, textile, and metal. These materials are transformed through pleating, stretching, and other mutations resulting in an unexpected mix of organic and industrial aesthetics that call into question the relationship between the materials and sculptural processes.
To create the seven sculptures that make up R O C K F A L L (2014), the artist digitally scanned a piece of concrete rubble and used computer software to stretch the 3D image and enlarge the cast “rocks” in concrete, aluminum, and Cor-Ten steel. Though lifelike, the resulting forms are entirely machine-made, with the evidence of the digital carving mechanism revealed on the rippled surface of each sculpture.
Alice Channer (b. 1977, Oxford, United Kingdom) lives and works in London. Her work has been featured in solo exhibitions at the Aspen Art Museum (2015), Kunstverein Freiburg in Germany (2013), and the South London Gallery (2012). Her work has also been shown in group exhibitions at the Palais des Beaux-Arts (Paris), Tate Britain (London), and the Frost Art Museum (Miami). In 2013, she participated in the 55th Venice Biennale with The Encyclopedic Palace. Her work is included in the Arts Council Collection, the Tate Permanent Collection, and the Zabludowicz Collection, all in the United Kingdom, among others. She received a BA in Fine Art at Goldsmiths College and earned an MA in Sculpture from the Royal College of Art in London. Channer is represented by Lisa Cooley Gallery in New York.
Berlin-based artist Lothar Hempel’s work in painting, sculpture, photography, and video offers a surreal reinterpretation of visual culture. Drawing inspiration from Greek tragedy, music, cinema, politics, and dance, he creates eclectic, dreamlike, anthropological installations that incorporate found and collected images in powerful mixed media sculptures.
FROZEN (2015) reflects Hempel’s interest in the effect of time on memory and image culture. The image of the skateboarding woman depicted on the sculpture suspended at tree-level appears to have been taken in the 1970s, yet it was appropriated from a contemporary online source. Paired with the familiar spinning rainbow wheel that indicates a computer error, the work questions the evolving nature of memory in our technologically-mediated environment. Can a memory be frozen in time by the camera, our consciousness, or even digital delay? How long will it persist?
Lothar Hempel (b. 1966, Cologne, Germany) lives and works in Berlin. His work has been featured in solo exhibitions at The Kitchen in New York (2014), Museum Kleines Klingental, Basel Switzerland (2013), and the Centre National d’Art Contemporain in France (2007). His work has also been featured in group exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2010), and the Tate Liverpool (2004), as well as in the Herzliya Biennial (2011), the Beaufort Triennial in Belgium (2009), the Gwangju Biennial (2008), and the Venice Biennale (1993). His work is included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and Fondazione Morra Greco in Italy, among others. He studied at Kunstakademie, in Düsseldorf, Germany. Hempel is represented by the Anton Kern Gallery in New York, Stuart Shave/Modern Art in London, Art Concept in Paris, Gerhadsen Gerner in Berlin, Unlimited Contemporary Art in Athens, and the Gió Marconi Gallery in Milan.
Jon Rafman’s art practice explores the increasingly blurred lines between real and digital worlds by mining the rich potential of new technologies to represent the impossible. He is best known for his 9-Eyes series, for which he appropriated photographs amassed by Google Street View’s nine cameras that cataloged the world’s roads.
In the series “New Age Demanded,” which includes (Curveman Carrara) and (Elegante Carrara), 2015, Rafman has digitally manipulated the form of a traditional Greco-Roman bust. To make each of these sculptures, Rafman first created a virtual version of a bust and digitally distorted its form. In the past, marble busts were carved exclusively by hand, but Rafman has utilized a computerized industrial tool to carve these forms, disguising the familiar shape of the figure with his own digital design. Focused on the virtual realm, Rafman highlights the paradoxes of modern life by weaving together classical elements with modern technology in pieces that are at once monumental and faceless, familiar and alien.
Jon Rafman (b. 1981, Montreal, Canada) lives and works in Montreal. His work has been featured in solo shows at the Museé d’Art Contemporain de Montréal, (2015), The New Museum in New York (2013), and the Palais de Tokyo in Paris (2012). He has shown in group exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing, and the International Center for Photography in New York. His films have been screened at Art Basel in, Miami Beach, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami, and the Edinburgh Arts Festival, Scotland. His work is held in the collections of the Getty Trust in Los Angeles, the Saatchi Collection in London, and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome, among others. He received a BA in Philosophy and Literature from McGill University in 2004, and an MFA in Film, Video and New Media from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2008. Rafman is represented by M+B in Los Angeles, the Zach Feuer Gallery in New York, and the Future Gallery in Berlin.
Throughout her work, Amanda Ross-Ho has explored the appropriation and dissemination of images and the evolving use of the camera lens as a historical and contemporary visualization tool. Her work references preexisting cultural imagery, playing with scale, temporal context, material culture, and the activation of memory.
The Character and Shape of Illuminated Things (facial recognition), 2015, is a three-dimensional tableau replicating an image appropriated from an early photography manual. A twist on a previous sculpture by the artist, this version continues an exploration of photography, reflecting on the digital afterlife of art in the public realm. The central form of the tableau is a female mannequin, whose features inadvertently activate the facial recognition software ubiquitous to our social networks. Acknowledging the “intelligence” of the camera lens, Ross-Ho includes a neon square against the mannequin’s face, calling attention to this virtual framing device.
Amanda Ross-Ho (b. 1975, Chicago) lives and works in Los Angeles. Solo exhibitions have been presented at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland (2014), Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2013), and Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2012). Her work has been featured in group exhibitions at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2011) and The Museum of Modern Art in New York (2010). In 2008, her work was included in the Whitney Biennial and the California Biennale at the Orange County Museum of Art. Her work is included in the collections of the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, the Saatchi Collection in London, Yale University Art Gallery, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Queensland Art Gallery. Ross-Ho received her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1998. She received her MFA from the University of Southern California in 2006. Ross-Ho is represented by Mitchell-Inness & Nash in New York and The Approach in London.
Hank Willis Thomas
Hank Willis Thomas’ work focuses on themes related to identity, media, and popular culture. His art practice challenges the construction and perception of African-American identity, and the commodification and representation of “blackness” in commerce, politics, and popular culture. Working in photography, video, web format, and installation, he often appropriates imagery to subvert and question cultural representations.
Liberty (2015) is a life-size, candy-coated bronze sculpture derived from a 1986 found photograph of a Harlem Globetrotter. He spins a basketball on his finger, in the likeness of the Statue of Liberty, which is featured in the background of the image. In a digital era where electronic devices mediate our viewing experiences, the three-dimensional arm, appropriated from the photograph, invites the viewer to consider the framing and context of the images that surround us.
Hank Willis Thomas (b. 1976, Plainfield, New Jersey) lives and works in New York City. His work has been featured in solo exhibitions at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Ford Lauderdale (2015), the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg, South Africa (2014), the International Center for Photography, New York (2013), and the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (2011). His work has been included in group exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Museum of Art and Design, and MoMA PS1, all in New York. In 2011, he participated in the Venice Biennale and the Istanbul Biennial. His work is held in the collections of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, and the Brooklyn Museum. He received a BFA in Photography and Africana Studies from New York University in 1998, and in 2004 an MA in Visual Criticism as well as an MFA in Photography, from the California College of the Arts. Thomas is represented by Galerie Anne de Villepoix in Paris, Galerie Henrik Springmann in Düsseldorf, Germany, the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg, South Africa, and the Jack Shainman Gallery in New York.
Timur Si Qin
Timur Si-Qin’s multidisciplinary work defies easy categorization. His interest in biology, psychology, and philosophy informs his hybrid practice that combines nature, culture, and media technology. Using new technologies like 3D printing, he creates provocative sculptural installations that explore evolutionary biological predispositions to how we see and process images. His practice is focused on revealing evidence of deep primordial impulses on current cultural trends related to materialism, taste, and desire.
The title of the work, Monument to Exaptation, refers to an evolutionary shift, one Timur Si Qin likens to changes in our behavior toward image culture and branding in the digital era. These three sculptures appropriate the form of an archetypal advertising space – one that might be placed at the entrance to a strip mall or car dealership – and their concave shapes intentionally allows the eye to linger few seconds longer on the surface of the image. These contemporary totems are displayed in City Hall Park in an almost ceremonial fashion, depicting several iterations of Si-Qin’s signature logo for peace. Rather than serving as a platform for advertising, the objects function like a future monument to the visual landscape of today.
Timur Si-Qin (b.1984, Berlin) lives and works in Berlin. His work has been included in group exhibitions at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing (2014), MAXXI Museum in Rome (2014), CAFA Art Museum in Beijing (2012), the Contemporary Art Center in Cincinnati (2011), and the Art Institute of Chicago (2010). His work was also shown at the 2014 Taipei Biennial. He has completed residencies at Casa Natali/MAMbo in Bologna, Italy, Space in London, and Program in Berlin. Sin-Qin received a BFA from the University of Arizona in 2008. He is represented by Fluxia in Milan, and Société in Berlin.
Artie Vierkant’s sculptures, digital art, and videos explore the nature of intellectual property, commercialism, and online distribution. In his Image-Objects series – from which the exhibition draws its title – he reworks photographs of his exhibitions, turning the physical objects into digital images in an exploration of the transformation and reproducibility of digital images.
Each piece begins its life as a digital file named for the date and time of its source image; these are then rendered as prints on dibond and cut to create photographic images that approach the depth and presence of a sculpture. Each time the pieces are documented officially the new images are altered to create a version of the work that moves further and further away from a representation of the original physical object. This new Image Object – Vierkant’s first outdoor work – translates the photographic process into three-dimensional form by printing digitally altered images directly on a large cut-steel cube. The visual gaps between the form and the printed images explore the flexibility of perception and vision. This is particularly true in Vierkant’s post-opening intervention to the documentation images of work, which are disseminated to press and on the Public Art Fund website, along with images captured by viewers throughout the course of the show.
Artie Vierkant (b. 1986 Brainerd, MN) lives and works in Brooklyn. In 2014, his work was included in group shows at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing and the International Center for Photography in New York. His publications include The Image Object Post-Internet and Club Kids the Social Life of Artists on Facebook. Vierkant received a BA in Fine Arts in Science Technology and Society from the University of Pennsylvania and an MFA from the University of California San Diego. Vierkant is represented by the New Galerie in Paris and Mesler/Feuer in New York.