Mediating Matrices and Meditations on a New Media: Built in the Digital World: Kimberly Burleigh, James Duesing, Derrick Woodham and McCrystle Wood: at Weston Art Gallery June 15 – August 31, 2012

July 29th, 2012  |  Published in *, Summer 2012


Figure 1: Images (left to right): Kimberly Burleigh, James Duesing, Derrick Woodham and McCrystle Wood.

By: Regan Brown

Photographs courtesy of Weston Gallery

“. . . In that Empire, the Art of Cartography attained such Perfection that the map of a single Province occupied the entirety of a City, and the map of the Empire, the entirety of a Province. In time, those Unconscionable Maps no longer satisfied, and the Cartographers Guilds struck a Map of the Empire whose size was that of the Empire, and which coincided point for point with it. The following Generations, who were not so fond of the Study of Cartography as their Forebears had been, saw that that vast Map was Useless, and not without some Pitilessness was it, that they delivered it up to the Inclemencies of Sun and Winters. In the Deserts of the West, still today, there are Tattered Ruins of that Map, inhabited by Animals and Beggars; in all the Land there is no other Relic of the Disciplines of Geography.” –Suarez Miranda,Viajes de varones prudentes, Libro IV,Cap. XLV, Lerida, 1658

On Exactitude in Science by Jorge Luis Borges, in Collected Fictions,

– Translated by Andrew Hurley Copyright Penguin 1999.


“Digital” is such a loaded word. On the one hand, it can conjure up veils of endlessly encoded zeros and ones raining down from some unholy matrix, generating the images and white noise pouring forth from our flat screens, entrancing us all with a false and virtual comfort while we while away the hours in our air-conditioned encephalopods, watching the Home Shopping Network or nature shows in HD… Meanwhile, out there somewhere in a shrinking wilderness far far away, the ice caps crack open with little more seeming consequence to us than the sound of some discarded popcorn kernels left scattered on a chalk-marred suburban sidewalk, fried up by the throes of another record-breaking, vision-bending heat wave. On the other hand, for some folks, this is the dawning of “The Age of Spiritual Machines”, one that includes an ever more integrated collaboration between Us, the Computers, the Smart Phones and the Internets, all of which will be nano-sized for implantation, except Us I suppose, unless, I guess, overpopulation becomes a problem. This “singularity” of human and machine will globally network a shrinking wilderness far far away and will somehow be able to resolve any of the unfortunate but “necessary” residual side-effects of our ever upward and exponential, but sometimes messy, mutational evolution. Of course, just to be on the safe side, there will be gated communities where some officials can watch everything at a safe remove buoyed up by a constantly refreshed, updated and upgraded real-time, virtually sterile in their pearly-white bunker, one free of the messy degradations of the body. Sort of like The Aviator of Crazy Howard Hughes became in later life.

Like film in its early days, that “New Media” had so much potential that some Surrealists thought, in a post WWI aftermath, they could tap into the subconscious directly and cathartically cleanse humanity of all its violent impulses. Then WWII happened. Then film slipped and fell onto the Hollywood dream machine assembly-line which has mostly come to churn out Sequential Super Hero Blockbuster Nightmare inspiring ad-nauseams…but wait, up there in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane… No it’s the Digital Revolution! Democratizing film, music making and creativity for all, so that just about anyone living in a relatively affluent part of the growing smart grid can post a video to Facebook of their cat recreated in Virtual 3D dancing along to the soundtrack of “I’m Too Sexy”. Maybe The Matrix had it right after all: instead of just subtlety infiltrating through the five senses we need a nice big analog cable that can be plugged directly into the brainstem.

The four artists in the current Weston Gallery exhibition haven’t resorted to such heavy-handed means as this to convey their conceptualizing, but instead attempt to mediate, with varied results and some semblance of thematic unity, a variety of relatively contemporary digital and some rather traditional strategies of presentation, despite the lopsided inference in the show’s title. This entails a cross section of media as various and nearly unwieldy as oil, watercolor, machined and assembled sculpture, theatrical lighting, digital prints of 3D still modeling, a Virtual Interactive Online Sculpture Garden, and last but not least, a collection of both hand drawn and Virtual 3D (V3D aka CGI -computer generated imagery) constructed video projections of a series of animations. All of this is barely held together by no little artistic skill and a broad base of subject matter which attempts to encompass nearly the whole damn Wheel of Life, from the calming and balanced Geometries of its Central Axis Mundi to the gnarled and spinning willy-nilly edges of its Lunatic Fringe. It turns out that Artificial Intelligence, in spite of its home computer origins in the hard edged 8 bits of those Atari games accessible to some of us when children, has very quickly morphed into something as fertile, accessible and gangly as its doppelgänger: the Natural World. The line between the map and what it is mapping continues to blur.

There’s a misnomer concerning the divide between the handcrafted and the digitally constructed that also needs to be blurred. There is actually a tremendous amount of crosspollination that needs to be further cultivated between the age-old 2D and 3D traditions and this New 4D Kid on the Block, especially considering the power to the nth degree of today’s computing, and the fact that some video cameras are nearly as cheap as a good paint brush. This is why artists of all stripes continue to gravitate to the “New Media” and not only for that “Let’s Wow the Kiddies” factor. It’s still a crap in crap out equation whatever the technicalities of the vehicle.

All the artists in this Group Show in fact take some pains to pull back the veil on the techniques behind their constructions, posting on the walls of the gallery quick tutorials or explanations on among other things: modeling in V3D, (which is in fact much like clay-molding, only with a mouse) or Motion Capture, which is the technique wherein a real person’s movements are mapped by the computer so they can more or less be grafted onto an animated character, more widely known now because of that Avatar of James Cameron fame. This may be the educator in these artists, (all in fact have or still teach at major universities), but it also seems as much about overcoming the myth about the “ease” or the “woeful lack of the human touch” involved in the production and result of such digitally aided and fabricated works. Of course much of the latest software is extremely user friendly: there are readymade drag and drop shapes and Platonic forms, and even in some cases fully formed trees, mountains, and horizons with much of the XY&Z axes, so painstakingly plotted out by hand in a pre-computer age, now mostly mapped out by the computer. The artistic and conceptual judgment is, at least for the foreseeable future, still done by the humans.

Film and photography managed to overcome similar misconceptions connected to those “New Media”, as did machine tooled Minimalism and many other of the several varieties of Pre-Fabbed Installation, Conceptual or Screen Printed “sampling arts” that burgeoned in the second half of 20th Century. New Media is far past the Midway point in this cooption process, but is often held back by a kind of nostalgia for the “hand-made” which is linked somehow to the “organic” of the natural world and the unique object d’art derived from its careful study. Yes, the autonomous objects (paintings/ prints/ sculptures, etc.) are still the things that mostly sell in the art world, as opposed to animations or video for example, which seem suspect to collectors because of their utterly downloadable, rip-able and sample ready reproducibility. All of the artists in this show do manage to walk this tight rope between the two by “reverse engineering” their digital constructions in various ways: either through reproducing them in hand painting, florid digital print or in sculpture, and in the process giving what almost seems a begrudging nod to the demands of “The White Cube”. This does set up a weird and unresolved dissonance though, one that say, the strategies of an artist like Rafaël Rozendaal [1] whose best work lives only online, has mostly resolved. Why in fact manifest digital productions physically, except for reasons of commodification or consumption, one might ask? Maybe we need New Strategies for this Newest Media that set it apart. I would argue that the Interactive Art of someone like Camille Utterback [2] does just this. There is a gaping lack of this type of “immersive” work in this current Weston “Digital” show, except for a nod to it in a somewhat unsightly online “Virtual World of Sculpture” Garden [3] with multiple contributors that are probably without any real or even a virtual curator it seems. This was originally set up back in 1996, paradoxically enough, by the “elder” artist in the show, Derrick Woodham, since retired from teaching. (BTW, the “Virtual World of Sculpture” Garden happens to work better in its setup at the Weston than on any of my browsers for Mac at home. Also, it must be said that the works of these four artists collected in this Weston exhibition work well together and most definitely shows signs of a mostly careful and collaborative curation.)

Alternatively, we could probably argue over the age-old questions of the need to keep one foot planted firmly in the tangible and one in the digital-virtual world, but I have a feeling that the “Inclemencies of Sun and Winters” will somehow sort all this out anyway. This current Weston show made me, in a way, long for its alternate universe where I could see some of the paintings as video sequences or the V3D digital prints as animations, or characters from the animations as sculptures…but maybe this is the point. These choices could have been made, apropos the flexibility of the digital, but most likely were not, for a variety of well-reasoned reasons which I’ll get to later in an individual examination of each artist’s works, (i.e. you can skip right on down to Part II if you’re already over these “meditations”).

The preciousness of the autonomous and individuated object will nearly always clash with the contemporary world of utterly malleable and serially reproducible over-manufactured products and realities that are soon to resonate right down to our genome: the physically and sometimes chemically, surgically and soon to be genetically modified self, a modification many have reservations about but will line up for tout-suite when it promises our comfortable survival cloned over and over again with a money back guarantee. I mean, are we really even a part of, or even of “Nature” itself any longer? Can we have our nature and eat it to? Maybe we just need to finally read the writing, or in this case, the art on the wall.


We milk the cow of the world, and as we do We whisper in her ear, ‘You are not true.’

-Richard Wilbur from Epistemology

“King Sleep was father of a thousand sons -
indeed a tribe – and of them all, the one he chose was Morpheus, who had such skill in miming any human form at will. No other Dream can match his artistry in counterfeiting men: their voice, their gait, their face – their moods; and, too, he imitates their dress precisely and the words they use most frequently. But he mimes only men…”

-Ovid, Metamorphoses, Book 11, lines 633 ff.

“Morpheus: If real is what you can feel, smell, taste and see, then ‘real’ is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.”

-from The Matrix

Despite it’s being “tainted” by a pop cultural and commercial vogue, there’s in fact an interesting instance in The Matrix when Neo (aka Kea-Neo Reeves) pulls his wallet, keys and secret hacker software out of hiding from a gutted copy of Simulacra and Simulation, [4] Jean Baudrillard’s tome on, among other things, the “precession of simulacra”: our world of signs speaking to signs in an endless feedback loop left howling far out in the darkness of “the desert of the real”. Virtualism isn’t really a futuristic sci-fi phenomenon though; it’s as old as the Greeks, as cave painting, as the expectation of rebirth inherent in the burial of the dead, as dreams and perception itself. It’s just that it’s never been out there running around in the digital wilderness with a Second Life all its own, separately manifested and so divested from the verities of a body which is now walking a tightrope slung between the shaky poles of post-modernism and post-humanism, both in the Cyborgian sense and in the de-centered, the earth and its people ain’t the Axis Mundi of the universe no more. We’re not even near Kansas these days. The digital has somehow become the New Spectral, a land way off the yellow brick road that used to be occupied by dreams, hallucinations, visions and ghosts, but now is populated by Avatars returning our gaze with a frigid glare and humans trying to mimic that hyper-real perfection by enhancing their bodies and stamina with plastic surgery and the wonders of performance enhancing chemistries. This “Spectral Vertigo” is underlined further by the frightening fact that we might just survive the extinction of “the wilderness” with a whole big concoction of technologies: like maybe a gigantic artificial heart that can pump out all the molten lava collecting at the earth’s cooling core after some errant nuclear bomb knocks it off its axis while the scientists work feverishly in the depths of Fort Knox to upload as many consciousnesses as possible into Second Life, driven hard by a President Schwarzenegger whose managed to survive bionically all these years, just in order to force through an amendment to change that pesky law on Natural Born Citizens becoming our Nation’s Chief Executive ! Wait haven’t we seen this movie somewhere before?

While encountering this multitudinous Vertigo from our (Art) world’s tightrope, some have grasped for ethical values, some religion, some nudity or their own crotches, while others, like Contemporary Visual Artists exhibiting in White Cubes, especially those churned out or employed by Today’s Art Schools, (mea culpa) [5], we sometimes tend to resort to the lotus position and grasp for Social Commentary, Deconstruction or, (I hear my students yaaaawn), the Elements of Art: those psuedo-zen like Platonic figures of cubes, pyramids and harmonic spheres floating out there in the spinning color-wheel rainbow ether or right there in your 3-D Studio Max Menu: those root ingredients Plato thought generated all forms in the physical world…but this barely holds true in the macro-world, much less the Post-Euclidean, micro-Quantum one of Higher Physics which reads more and more like Metaphysics with each and every discovery. Hell, I bet you the money I get paid to write this stuff that those “God-Particle” people are going to tell us before long that a team of unicorns pulls that Hadron Collider thing around on a gigantic Carousel, all to the soundtrack of the Music of the Spheres. Ok, time to get off this “reality isn’t really all that real” merry- go-round and to the task at hand. Luckily, I guess, there’s always a deadline lurking out there, howling in the “desert of the real” somewhere.

There is of course, I begrudgingly admit, something to the empiricism of the Elements of Art and Anatomy, even Science, when it’s not leaned on pedantically or too preachy. Obviously both Art and Science have increasingly used such calculations, from the proto-Renaissance Grid, and Leonardo’s Autopsies to the rebirth of the symmetries of the Golden Mean to the currently Mind-Bending discoveries of Quantum Physics to help us ever more flex reality to the will of our imagination. Never has it been done more fluidly, except by maybe peyote. The figure, the human body, still remains the primary frame of reference for now. Poseidon has become a deep-sea submarine. Icarus a space flight. Dedalus an Internet Service Provider. The mechanics of the eye and brain have been harnessed in a camera lens, a hard drive, a microchip through the shear force of human ingenuity very few of us, including myself, thoroughly understand. A kind of geekish and priestly inner-circle remains as gatekeepers to the land of gadgets. Arthur C. Clarke’s adage that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” rings true for many of us, especially creative types who just want our imaginations conveyed as clearly and sometimes as quickly as possible. If a computer can ease this process and let you render a sketch of a big sculptural idea, or let you playback a video in a camera’s LCD monitor rather than make you wait weeks to get your film processed, well why not take advantage of the “magic” of it all.

Even for us skeptical and sometimes vaguely atheistic laypeople though there is a disconcerting adherence by life to say the more easily understandable elegance of a Fibonacci sequence manifested in the nautilus shell and its equivalent in the land of Artificial Intelligence, a fractal: algorithms and zero/one binaries framing up refreshed and shifting images, zooming in and out to aid the human eye in gridded pixels that mix the additive RGB spectrum like a whole theater lighting rig just meant for your monitor, for your eyes only, available any time day or night. It’s almost got a life of its own, unless we do in fact reach the Oil Rubicon. I doubt though that there’s a future out there where we won’t somehow be needed by our machines, at least to pump their gas or leer at them as voyeurs, or even give them a little spark of the soul. Much of this is borne out by the work in the current Weston show.


“. . . The bottom line of the grid is a naked and determined materialism. But ( . . .) that is not the way that artists have ever discussed it. (. . .) Mondrian and Malevich are not discussing canvas or pigment or graphite or any other form of matter. They are talking about Being or Mind or Spirit. The grid’s mythic power is that it makes us able to think we are dealing with materialism (or sometimes science, or logic) while at the same time it provides us with a release into belief (or illusion, or fiction).” -from: Rosalind Krauss: Grids October 9, Summer 1979. [Reprinted in: The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1985.


Derrick Woodham’s work, the first to be encountered in the great glass and gridded cube that makes up the Weston’s entrance gallery, leans heavily on both a reductionist geometry of life and its equivalencies in the computer world, and his descriptions of the process of his creations sound more like an engineering manual than an artist statement:

“The degree of rotation was determined by rotating transparencies of the screens on top of each other, looking for simple geometry in the layering which would provide a way to fix their relative positions on a number of levels. At the third layer regular patterns of opposing rows of equilateral triangles were formed…”

This is refreshing in its own way because Woodham is not discussing “Being or Mind or Spirit”. Luckily the work itself is not as dry as the statement, although these are certainly not expressionist works to gush over emotionally. The Modernist grid has been torqued by Woodham here into something more eloquent and austere, something more than a parenthetical quotation of over a half century of geometric Minimalism, Op Art and Neo Geo, and its architectural mother who ranges many of our cities in a seemingly endless and ubiquitous glass and steel fretwork of the “International Style”. As Woodham instructs us with an additional artist statement, and emphasizes with titles, he is dealing here with the Moiré pattern, something recognizable to most in the undesired artifact one still sometimes sees when a person wears a thin striped or hounds-tooth suit on TV and the geometric patterns splay in all different directions when there’s movement, mainly because of the way TV images are sampled and interlaced in their display: shifting grids get layered on shifting grids. In Woodham’s work there’s a play with the layering and shifting of such grids in order to achieve the dynamics of the geometric abstraction inherent in the awe of a spider-web, or the varied hexagonals of fallen snowflakes layered up under a microscope. This is much more true of Woodham’s works in white than those in color, though the pieces mounted at just a slight distance from the wall, and lit with primary colored spots, have a eerie depth to them that, although latticed flat and parallel, give the impression that their geometries are in fact rising out straight toward us on a immaterial 3D z-axis. The multiple pyramidal points contained within the cross-hatching in a work like “Pentagon Moiré” create an optical illusion that, depending on where you stand, impersonate a dimension where you can almost reach out and touch the points spiraling out toward you. Since the term “moiré” originates from a type of textile with a rippled or “watered” appearance, the pieces encountered next, which are by Kimberly Burleigh, and found just down the steps in Weston’s lower gallery, segue nicely from Woodham’s.

Burleigh’s work almost makes Woodham’s geometries look as if they’re being disturbed by a rippled, and not a little bit toxic, reflecting pool. Titles like “Titanium Dioxide” suggest as much, and remind me of aerial photographs I once saw of a chemical waste dump: the luminosity rivaled Helen Frankenthaler’s work, but the sinister titles belied the beauty. Something similar is at work with Burleigh’s paintings and watercolors, and yes they are paintings and watercolors, although at first impression they have that superflat sheen, much like the digital prints of McCrystle Wood’s work, to which they are hung adjacent. There’s a reason for that sheen. Burleigh, in her artist statement, calls attention to and pulls a distinct thread through the reverse engineering process she has engaged in here: the fluid mechanics of the materials she is working with, their art-historical significance and their scientific properties as they are experimented on in the digital-virtual, then brought back to the tangible with brush and color:

“The intent with my recent work is to use certain phenomena of fluid properties to examine and exalt various aesthetics, history, and techniques of painting. The primary fluids for developing the imaging for these paintings (oils and watercolors) were digitally constructed in the computer using natural and unnatural laws of physics (with regard to wave formation and materiality). The fluid’s properties were then pulled apart, isolated, and recorded in paint.”

The results are impressive on a technical and purely aesthetic level, and there is something more to be narratively or socially interpreted here than Woodham’s Geometries I suppose, unless his “Pentagon” has something to do with Abbie Hoffman’s 1967 attempt to levitate the infamous Defense Department’s namesake… I somehow doubt it. Burleigh, especially in her online statements about this work [6], parts of which were, for some reason, excised from the printed statement in the gallery, gets more to the point of helping us interpret this series: “The titles (e.g., “Well/ Anthraquinone”) indicate a sometime mysterious body of water, a well, and to a toxic pigment used in the painting. My intent is to create an image of beautiful light patterns with an undertow of the sinister.” The work Well (Titanium Dioxide) -Figure 5 above- seems most successful in this sense, resonating as say a polluted water well, or even a hypnotically robotic eye whose monotone voice, ala Hal 9000, is telling us his diagnosis is infallible, that everything is going to be just fine.

Maybe Burleigh excised these more leading parts of her online statement in order to remain more abstract, but I actually have a weakness for the symbolic and have always found it difficult to remain in entirely Formalist mode, just reveling in a work’s purely aesthetic, Platonic, Elemental underpinnings. There’s always some socio-political or historical context, however much the scientific mind tries to keep its objective distance. The dream of reason can always produce nightmares.

This desire to have symbols and context, and not rest on the Element’s Laurels, is most likely why I find McCrystle Wood’s work to be most successful in the show. There is of course some careful attention to line, shape, color, etc, but the “underlying sinister” in Burleigh’s work is in full-blown, Fleur de Mal bloom in Wood’s Jardin Femme (Garden Woman) Digital Print Series.

These works reference the beauty and timelessness of the flowered scenes say, in a Dutch still life by Jan van Huysum, although they are certainly not the masterfully painted mise-en-scènes of domestic bliss enjoyed by a rising Flemish middle class in the 17th Century. They’re not even masterfully built works in digital 3D, as, for example, some of the pistils of her digital blooms are, in some cases, weirdly dislocated and floating disjointed above the flowers they should inhabit. Yet they are floating in interesting maelstroms of garbage and decay wherein, as Wood’s statement attests: “You will see both literal and symbolic images of deterioration, decay, and death (natural stages of life) interwoven with hope fertility and birth.” This “hope” is borne on a delightful mix of bright oranges and yellows which contrast strongly with the mostly grey, bleak and impending backgrounds, or the decayed looking torsos to which the blooms seem roughly grafted, like another of Dr. Moreau’s hybrid experiments gone wrong. Luckily, no real people, plants or flowers were used in this production, so the Joel-Peter Witkin third rail of using real dead people wasn’t touched but only cited by Wood as an influence, yet again, like Burleigh, only in an online statement excised from the printed gallery statement. This manipulation in the digital hyper-real, and mostly taboo in the real, gives people a certain comfort, emancipating them from any worry when letting loose on a bunch of people in say, a first-person shooter video game. I guess that is until the I, Robot, in its early, slightly sociopathic sentience, starts shooting back, or their proxies in the real world do so for them.

This is of course not the issue in Wood’s work, as I would never stop and really try and smell the flowers here. There is something more of the supernumerary here, the moth pulled to the bright light bulb of the imagined, which conceptually works more consistently overall with the “digital” thematic and what is unique about the form: a growing 1:1 map of the “real” where people are coming to live in as much or more than the previous “real” of the natural world which is crumbling away from misuse. The strong color and line aesthetics in Wood’s work also help resolve the “bleakness” of the work’s background both thematically and visually. This contrasts quite strongly with the theme and visions of James Duesing, where these aesthetic attentions seem secondary to unresolved montages of nihilistic freakishness. Wood and Duesing do share some thematic common ground though, namely a blatantly disturbing and disorienting depiction of the consequences of “overload”, whether it be informational, economic, political, or the just plain over-consumptive throwaway State of all of the above.

In Duesing’s animations, the hybridized mutants only suggested by Wood’s work come to life, mostly modeled in V3D and set into motion: walking, talking and often kissing, or more accurately sucking face. Or eating face even. Yes there’s cannibalism, animalism, obsession, regression, all the verities of humans on the edge grafted onto genetically altered mish mashes of say, a Lady Centaur in a thong or a man with a leg of mutton for a head who shape-shifts from scene to scene with tear-away costumes, all consumed by a barely coherent stream of communal subconscious “conversations”. This is Dr. Moreau as Animator, tucked away in some far off computer lab corner, churning out playmates like someone with a dissociative disorder who is happy to find out they don’t have to “fuse” all their beloved personalities into one. They can live out their ephemeral days in DigiLand!

Some of these characters in fact greet us in nicely printed portraits before we ever even enter the darkened projection rooms where a near retrospective of Duesing’s work loops away on replay. This amount of work makes it difficult to generalize about his animations, and Duesing echoes his reluctance to do so in an Artist Statement posted in the gallery:

“I am interested in making animation that explores what is unique about the form. For me this means creating scenes where time is consistent and space is fluid, rejecting the cut as an artifact of live action. This changes the audiences’ relationship to the traditional form of narrative events …It is hard to generalize about my work…I try and make animations that depict how events are experienced and remembered, even though the incidents and characters in my work are unlike what people experience on a daily basis -at least at this point in evolution.”

Therefore it’s best to focus on what I consider Duesing’s best animation of those presented, Tender Bodies, because with this work, as with any of the works presented, it’s pretty much like dropping a pebble anywhere in the reflecting pool: certain themes resonate from center to fringe throughout. Also, the portraits cited previously call attention to Tender Bodies as they all were snatched from this animated romp where we, among other things: ride on the back of “Faun”, an electrified unicorn (there’s that damn unicorn again) who encounters other botched genetic experiments like the carnivorous “Kisser” who works as the strong arm for a seedy underground ring run by a maniacal Mafioso who delights in rounding up and torturing, live on camera, the discarded and forgotten ones like “Other”, a distended and asexual being recovered from alleyway garbage who manages an operatic aria during all the barbarity. Hey all you traditionalists, try and manage that in “Ye Old Media”. Well that’s really “apples and oranges”, and beside the point here. What we’re dealing with in Duesing’s work is a bit of a chasm: this is a newer art form that’s struggling to find its own voice, like a Grackle squawking on top of the recordings of a century-high pile of time-based white noise, trying to pick out the shiny bits of TV, Film, and Radio in order to splice them together for a concoction to be shot right through your retina and cochlea, so just a slight residue might linger in your lizard brain, or crop up in a nightmare or, maybe something you have more control over: an animation all your own.

As I left the dark room of Duesing’s animations, I thought, well what’s “Artistic” about that? I mean, most of us, I think, still expect or, more presciently here, desperately long for that rush of the long sought after baseline of pure aesthetic pleasure, that sublime beauty in art. Sorry that would be Art with a capital A. It’s supposed to be like standing on a (melting) ice cap in the Alps, gulping at the fresh air, far away from the billboards peddling their wares with the line, shape and form principles of “good design”, all just to sell us the latest diet pill, or a face lift, or a coke and a smile -although I never really understood how those two went together when we used to leave screws to melt in cans of coke, a process that took just a matter of weeks. Beauty still has its place in this (Art) world, as much of this “Built in the Digital World” work shows: these pieces depend as much on the facility these artists have in the use of their real digits, whether wrapped around a paint brush or a mouse. It’s just that this beauty is now on equal footing with the ugliness that often consumes the world, as dystopian visions are often less harmful and more honest than utopian ones, as the pivot from Modernism to Post-modernism to Post-humanism and back again continues to spin Us in circles.

As I turned the corner to leave the Weston, I noticed one final piece of Duesing’s, tucked away in a corner, which I hadn’t seen in my first go around of the gallery. If I had passed it over unnoticed, the whole thread of the show, and in fact this article might have become unraveled. Life’s like that I guess. This piece depicts a kind of sickeningly beautiful geometric arrangement of interwoven flowers and worms, a still from a full screen wipe during a scene in one of Duesing’s animations where a couple of characters have the following dialogue:

“The world is a bea-u-ti-ful place,”

“How would you know? You sit in front of a monitor all day!”

“And everything I see is beautiful.”

I can’t even tell you at this point, in all honesty, if this piece was hand-painted or a digital print. If you’ve come this far on this arduous reading journey, then please go find out “in person” and let me know in the comments below. However, as the deadline looms, and the matrices continue to mediate and the computers will soon know how to meditate on ohms, I’m not sure it really even matters one way or another anymore, does it?





















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