Looking at images from history, it is important to note that image codes and conventions that reproduce historical meaning have continued to change in the context of electronic visual technologies. I addressed those changes through a series of works that examined the impact and artistry of electronic media. I created the ‘BSoD’ [Blue Screen of Death] series as a metaphor for the ‘postmodern condition’; a condition that immerses humans in a world that has become increasingly isolated from reality through digital technologies; a condition wherein we experience very real bodily emotions of fear, tension, stress, frustration and vulnerability in our confrontation with signifiers of our virtual world. I chose the ‘BSoD’ stop error code that appears when our computer systems are crashing because I believe it best exemplifies the impact technology has had on our lives. The ‘BSoD’ stop error code has become a universal sign for crisis and loss, a reminder that even cyborg life [after all, our mother board is the holder of a prosthetic cache of our thoughts and memory] is unstable and fragile. By remarking on the shift from our physical, embodied experience of the material world to our experiences as users linked on a sensory and psychological level to digital media my ‘BSoD’ series inserts itself into a history of ideas that follows the development of different ways of seeing, different ways of knowing the world, and different views about the value and meaning of art.
The level of engagement of these works, whether it is the ‘BSoD’ series of paintings, or my works like ‘OUCH!’ that reference video games, partially derives from the instantaneous recognition of the imagery by most viewers suggesting that we share a common level and degree of engagement with the media. In order to comment on and communicate the effect digital modes of representation produce in us I needed to move beyond the limitation of actual electronic visual media and its continuous sequential action. For me, the static quality of painting would allow the viewer the time for reflection and distance from the looming risk of consequences—the impending crash of their system, or death of their avatar—in order to examine their own emotional reaction and physical response to the computer imaging and our world it simulates. To this effect, for the ‘BSoD’ painting series I researched and carefully re-created the illusion of a 4:3 ratio display monitor through my choice of materials— spray paint stenciled digital text and the cold, sterile, and manufactured materiality of the slick aluminum surface allowed the custom blue-coloured powder coating to reproduce the luminosity of a display monitor mounted on cleats two inches from the wall—that arrested the viewer through the works replication of the actual. Last, but not least, my work pays homage to the artistry, mastery and sophistication of those that work in the digital arts industry by challenging our idea of what constitutes “low art” [for example, video game culture and graphics] and arguing by replication in the “high art” format of painting for digital graphics placement and inclusion within art history.
While our viewing practices have been transformed by the aesthetics and logics of the computer-era, so too have earlier approaches to the representation of the real informed the settings, themes and styles of video games. ‘OUCH!’, a composition I have isolated from the early Windows computer game ‘SkiFree’ best exemplifies that practice. Like Mondrian and the other members of the De Stijl movement the figure in ‘OUCH!’ has been reduced to primary colours and spatial illusion to the opposition of a vertical and horizontal grid transcoding the visible world into a geometric pattern. With the painting ‘OUCH!’ I hope to expose the debt, and homage to art historical movements made by video game artists and to take it a step further by re-creating the illusion of a virtual world reduced to an orthogonal grid through the virtual extension of the composition into the surrounding space—or, more precisely, implying that the painting and the white wall of a gallery space is an invisible yet all-encompassing grid that we, the viewer are a part of.