On Painting Machines

Reblogged from ekstasis:

“Anton Perich

Everything has history. Call the above proto-glitch. Here’s Perich describing his artistic process, in this case building a machine to do his painting for him in 1977:

I dreamed of a machine that would paint. No more hand made paintings, but machine made, with sharp electric lines, on and off, like Morse code, short and long. So in 1977/78 I built such a machine, using surplus materials from Canal Street stores. I wired some photocells to the airbrushes on the motorized scanning unit that swept an area of about 10×12 feet, hung a piece of canvas, and made my first digital painting. In his Diaries Warhol said he was terribly jealous. This machine was an early precursor of ink jet printer/scanner. This was the time long before computer and digital art. I had my first show of electric paintings at Tony Shafrazy Gallery in 1979. I am still painting with this machine every day. It keeps breaking and I keep fixing it all the time.

Not “computer generated,” but computer aided. Not mechanistic, but nevertheless mediated by technology, by the digital. “Glitched,” before such a thing was.

The wonderful Joanne McNeil is in charge of Rhizome’s frontpage these days. Compare Perich’s painting from the 70’s to her post, from 2011:

Today’s information and mass media society have brought about a diffused ‘aestheticization’ where artists are mixing political and war images with those proceeding from adds, commercial cinema and entertainment. Be it by hiding images behind layers, making them transparent or pixilated, applying faded colors and thick paint, there is a slowing down of the experience of viewing an image through a hand made, physical rendering. But, besides this ‘slowness’ and physicality that we traditionally associate with painting, the painting medium is also paradoxically going through an ‘acceleration’ process through its newfound relationship with iPhones, scanners, Photoshop, Facebook, satellites, digital cameras, and 3-D programs.

— The Museum voor Moderne Kunst Arnhem (MMKA) description of exhibition The End of History…and The Return of History Painting (via Bruce Sterling)

…Not “computer generated,” but mediated. That “slowness” is the same as Perich’s, a layer between theory and practice. Perich built a piece of bleeding-edge technology inspired by century old Morse code, by a dream, that always breaks and needs repair. It could be contemporary and would still seem avant garde.

The tools have changed, of course, which changes the context. A modified inkjet printer is a throwback now, a modern process made real by an allegedly dying technology, but the principle remains the same. That’s “the end of history,” simultaneously hurtling forward and artificially slowing ourselves, if only so we can make sense of things. Reaching into the past only to find what we thought was new, revolutionary and not being entirely surprised.”

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