/Jacqueline Humphries’s Digital Paintings, Aglow in the Dark

Jacqueline Humphries’s Digital Paintings, Aglow in the Dark


BRIDGEHAMPTON, N.Y. — There was a second earlier this decade, throughout these final, panting moments once we all nonetheless revered expertise firms, when some Silicon Valley dreamers knowledgeable us that they might remodel the marketplace for portray. Get prepared, they advised us, for the rise of nifty 3D printers and the demise blow they might deal to creative creation. Any object may very well be known as up in minutes! New artwork would come straight out of the extruder! Perfect replicas of masterpieces would change into universally accessible; each Van Gogh and Velázquez would possibly quickly be nugatory.

Any artist might have knowledgeable them that this was a class error. Painting is a creative medium, not a expertise in itself. And portray, like each creative medium, acquires that means, significance, and certainly monetary worth by means of a posh internet of perceptions that stretches properly previous the floor of the canvas.

Few painters at the moment interact with the challenges of recent expertise as persuasively as Jacqueline Humphries, who’s presenting an formidable and formidably clever exhibition of contemporary work at the Dan Flavin Art Institute — housed in a former church right here in the Hamptons, and managed by Dia Art Foundation. Upstairs, Flavin’s sculptures of fluorescent tubes forged their mild as traditional towards the institute’s white partitions. Downstairs, Ms. Humphries is presenting 10 new works that additionally glow, due to fluorescent paint jobs and overhead black lights. (It’s O.Okay. in case your white sneakers begin shining; Labor Day got here early this 12 months.)

Though some first seem like canvases, none are “paintings” as such, or not less than not work as we normally perceive them. Most are in truth resin objects, some made by casting pre-existing work with conventional molds, and different produced by — what are you aware?! — 3D printing.

Ms. Humphries is finest recognized for shimmering, burbling summary work that agglutinate stenciled marks, typographical stutters, and misleading spills and splashes that in truth outcome from cautious composition. Over a decade, she has pushed every canvas to a restrict level at which it exceeds the prospects of photographic copy — many produce a moiré distortion when photographed, and tackle new varieties and inaccurate colours on the display of a smartphone.

But oil portray just isn’t her sole medium, nor do her creative efforts finish at the edges of the canvas. She has additionally experimented with customized illumination, notably with ultraviolet mild (or “black light”), which imbues fluorescent-painted canvases with the radiance of pc screens. This twin engagement with expertise and lighting makes Ms. Humphries a great (if considerably naughty) match for an exhibition at the Flavin Institute — the place her use of black lights makes the gallery appear as if a through-the-looking-glass reflection of Flavin’s artwork.

A fluorescent purplish-pink art work right here titled “Painting,” to take one instance, just isn’t exactly a portray, however a urethane resin forged of an earlier work on canvas that Ms. Humphries made in 2016. From a distance it seems almost monochrome, however stand up shut and also you’ll see rivers of dots and half-moons, barely raised like the treads of a automotive mat. They are punctuation marks, and, handily for a critic, “Painting” is the uncommon portray you possibly can quote. Its floor says “ 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 ” — though, when you sat in visitors on Route 27 for too lengthy, you might favor to learn these smileys as frownie faces rotated off their axis.

These emoticons — predecessors of emoji, composed purely of typographical parts and never imagistic on their very own — have been initially produced by making use of paint by means of laser-cut stencils. Human emotion will get standardized into generic, two-character textspeak, however then turns, by means of Ms. Humphries’s lashing of oil paints by means of the stencil, again into lifelike type.

Here in Bridgehampton they’ve gone by means of an extra translation, from paint into resin, and Ms. Humphries has added a component to the forged portray’s floor: a chunk of driftwood connected close to the work’s midpoint, slathered in glowing chartreuse pigment. Or is it not driftwood? While the typographical smiley faces have taken on tactile, virtually natural type, the “driftwood” seems pixelated and glitchy, an unconvincing stand-in for organic actuality. This is a forged, too, 3D printed at an deliberately inadequate decision that reveals its digital supply.

So “Painting” is a crush of deceptions and deflections: a portray that’s truly a sculpture, a face that’s truly punctuation, a tree that’s truly code, a supply of sunshine that’s truly reflecting mild. Several different forged works right here use the similar bait-and-switch methods, like “Full Sheet Green” and “Full Sheet Violet,” which first seem like painted plywood however reveal themselves as etched resin blocks, or “Collection,” a desk of glowing, 3D-printed driftwood and shells.

But Ms. Humphries just isn’t providing these warped works to deflate the prospects of portray, or to aver that every one artwork is a conceptual put-on. Quite the reverse. The resin casts are parts in a series of painterly creation, in which the 3D-printed parts — removed from placing portray out of enterprise — perform like crummy camera-phone pictures of absent originals. What you’re looking at (and, maybe, what you in your glowing telephone) is a node in a community, linking up with earlier referents by Ms. Humphries, by Flavin, by different artists and in the pure world.

How can artwork evade each the philistinism of Silicon Valley and the revanchism of technophobes? Ms. Humphries and different digitally minded painters begin by acknowledging that new applied sciences have always reshaped portray — from printmaking in the 16th century to images in the 19th to social media at the moment. These once-new applied sciences modified the phrases of our perceptions, making one model out of date and one other newly related, one picture sterile and one other persuasive. The process at the moment is to color the expertise of seeing in a world mediated by screens, and these black-lit works proceed that exploration, riffing off the Flavin Institute in a minor key.

[Jacqueline Humphries’s painterly marks at a 2017 show at Greene Naftali.]

Like so many of the artists beatified at Dia’s permanent collection in Beacon, Flavin saw his minimal art as a tool to modify viewers’ perception, and privileged bodily and visual experience above all. But Ms. Humphries, along with painters as different as Laura Owens, Wade Guyton and Michael Williams, understands that visual and physical perception are no longer sovereign; even the body and the senses now have been absorbed into digital networks of surveillance and control. Today your retinas get scanned at airport security, and your eyes can activate your credit card when you look at your phone’s front screen. Needless to add that when you gaze at an image today, the image is gazing back — in the form of cookies, beacons, tracking pixels and JavaScript tags, all of which log your looking as harmless or malign analytics.



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