Resource curated by Scott Campbell
March 2, 2011
Opening reception: March 2, 2011, 6 - 8 pm
What to do with all of the information at one’s disposal these days? Advertising flies at us from all angles. The 24-hour news cycle delivers a constant flow of heart-rending bits, now available even in a cross-town cab ride. Opportunities for accessing everything from statistical data to social networks are spread across a variety of media, operating both inside and outside the walls of our homes. Specifically, how can an artist utilize, and hopefully benefit from, this era of unprecedented access to information?
The three artists presented here claim an active role amidst the ceaseless flow of data. Acting as filters and conduits for information, their modes of artistic production are manifestations of this role. Justin Amrhein, Sarah Hotchkiss and Scott Campbell each create work revolving around their individual reception of the overwhelming amounts of data available. While their practices vary in terms of specific content, a shared formal relationship—all work with paper and affect a diagrammatic aesthetic—furthers their creation of unique systems and personal attempts at organization.
Justin Amrhein combines a variety of mechanical operations and parts to create schematic drawings of machines that border the real and the imaginary. By determining their purported overall function and the role of each individual part, his subject matter and commentary can cover many topics, from politics to biology. While the drawings operate on a macro scale, they also encourage close readings by way of his meticulous labeling systems. The drawings invite the viewer to slow down, contemplate and engage with the information as the artist has.
Sarah Hotchkiss’ work is rooted in a personal acquisition of knowledge. Pursuing historical trends and phenomena, she makes drawings, collages, text banners and printed ephemera that document her interactions with, and ruminations on, the material. Her methods of gathering and re-presenting information are not a means to fully understand the current world, but rather provide space for incomprehension and wonderment. Her most recent work addresses the imagined futures of the past and their relationship to our present.
Scott Campbell creates symbol-like images that are derived from specific sets of data. Information the artist has utilized ranges from molecular formulas to chess games. The subject matter of a work, however, can be wholly different than that of the data it is based on. By using a multi-layered approach, Campbell can convey alternate or additional meanings through his placement of one graph or diagram in relation to another. The aesthetic choices made in how to present said data are what ultimately illustrate a work’s underlying meaning.
Amrhein, Hotchkiss and Campbell’s shared desire to digest and reformat open-source information points toward their insatiable curiosities. Ultimately, their works are not an attempt at didacticism, but instead broadcast each artist’s unique engagement in the acquisition and absorption of generative information. The final pieces, as well as the process that leads up to them, function as a means of contextualizing our specific time in history through the production of artworks.