ARTI-FACTS

The most hidden thing in any attempt to represent reality is reality itself because in it, the only actual phenomena are the means to achieve it and they fill up the whole sheet, canvas or space of representation.

After the invention of photography, painters felt free to deal explicitly with the mechanisms of representation themselves. Indeed, in abstract painting the means of representation point to themselves rather than pointing to any reality existing "out there". On the other hand, this lack of reality allowed the artist to foreground spiritual and/or conceptual ideas as if no mediation was needed, but in fact those manners are merely presenting a calligraphic/esthetic surface to the observer.

From analog representation to digital hyper representation, from improving reality representation with the photo camera invention (1853) to the creation of mathematically based images (1:0), the DNA of the cultural logic of late capitalism – as Fredric Jameson called Postmodernism – has the need to expand itself all over, the only difference being that in lexicon of digital images, this DNA turns into RGB (red, green, blue), and its essential goal is  to conquer the whole visual space. As a virus.

The source of colors of LCD screens is an abstract mathematical model which describes how to represent colors as groups of three or four changing tone values. When technical specifications about the way to decode those groups (spectatorship conditions) accompany this model, then this color system is called a Color Space. Media that transmits light (as LCD screens do) is based on adjusting light power together with mixing the three basic colors. The combination of the colored light of those three colors reconstructs a considerably large part of human color apprehension.

Digital representation actually hides its representational means and creates a sharp image, a narcissistic world where the image pushes reality away, sets two mirrors fronting themselves, and tries to convince the spectator that he is seeing the very essence of reality.

An abyss separates the promises of screen representation from the banality of everyday life, and it is as large as the gap between it and Paradise. Paradise is to be achieved if, and only if, spectators would pass through a purification process (Purgatory), and undertake endless diets, eyebrow changes, nails design applications, laser depilation and silicon additions in the right places, not forgetting, Heaven forbid, all the required anti-aging preparations.

What we have here is a triangle assembled from grayish everyday life (earthly life), eternal life (screen shine) and challenges we must face in order to achieve immortality (reality shows).

But there are also faults and sometimes pixels turn on or shut down, either temporarily or permanently. Those bad pixels are called stuck pixels, because they keep showing only one color  without changing; hot pixels, which are white pixels with full light permanently on, and, opposed to them, dead pixels which are always black. These pixels may appear individually or in clusters and are known under the generic name Artifacts.

And what happens to the viewer who suddenly wakes up from the hypnotic dream into which the hyper realistic image has seduced him, after his perception was being disturbed by those artifacts?

Even in former times when art's goal was to be an open window to reality, art always relied on well known conventions, manifest on the painting surface but hidden to the viewer's consciousness. This is so because every time and place conjunction has its own cultural array sustained by assumed foundations that allow a person to interpret his world without seeing the conceptual skeletons hidden in it.

By displaying an image together with its depiction means, the craftsmanship of the representational effort manifest itself by discovering its stratagems and spectators become conscious of the artistic fact, the Arti- fact, without falling into the illusion of transparency.

In painting that means that the artist is required to foreground his materials and his brushstroke because those are the only things that really exist on the canvas. Even today, in our mass media/electronic/performing world, paintings may be submitted as objects of contemplation. That is so because in painting observation there are not any time limits nor fixed paths to be followed. Paintings are reflection in both meanings mirroring and meditating.

Life is a constant process of self examination between sky and earth, between utopia and dystopia, between the desire for knowledge and the awareness that there is no promised land but only the promise of searching for it in a never-ending exile. That is all the fun.

Eli Diner

2009