PRESS RELEASE – Jason Salavon: Arrows and Dice

SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO — Eight Modern is pleased to announce its upcoming exhibition with Jason Salavon. This will be the artist’s first show at Eight Modern.

One of the leading practitioners of computer-based art, Salavon uses software of his own design to capture and transfigure data and images drawn from popular culture, art history and contemporary lived experience. The resulting videos and photographic prints often obscure the distinctiveness of their sources while revealing the visual architecture and conventions that unite them.

“I’m just performing a pretty heartless mathematical operation on a series of data, where I set up a rule system,” Salavon explains. “But it has a relationship with [early abstractionists] who were taking the reality of a situation and bringing something into it that made it bigger than the individual moment.”

Spigot (Babbling Self-Portrait) is an abstract self-revealing digital portrait based on the artist’s 11,000 (and counting) Google searches over the past two years. Feeding live from the internet, Spigot randomly selects and re-runs previous searches in real time. One video stream displays the text and dates of the original queries, transformed by an algorithm into a grid of colored boxes. The other video projection pushes even further into abstraction, transmuting the raw data into a pattern of pulsating, rainbow-hued concentric squares. A bevy of robotic voices reads aloud the various search terms represented, providing a pervasive but indecipherable audio counterpart to the visual diptych.

In Still Life (Vanitas), Salavon has used production-level 3D animation to create a photo-realistic, yet completely synthetic, tableau of a mammal skull and candlestick in the style of 17th century Dutch painting. Over the course of four hours, these objects are constantly, but imperceptibly, changing in form, position, and material. In the artist’s words, “the infra-perception pacing aims to explore evolutionary phenomena through a lens of historical painting.”

Salavon’s photographic prints also draw upon his interest in art history. Baroque Painting and Impressionist Painting isolate and organize the color palettes from the 100 paintings by Rubens and Monet. Portrait (van Dyck) and Portrait (Velazquez) digitally average 80 portraits by these old masters. The impressionistic forms and painterly effect of these works are an intriguing counterpoint to the technical precision of Salavon’s process.
“The information in his statistical works has been reframed as art, much as Warhol and Lichtenstein repurposed prevalent popular culture forms of the 1960s,” notes Butler University art historian Elizabeth K. Mix. “By inserting a perceptual optical phenomenon in place of traditional presentation of information, Salavon creates a visual experience that preferences the aesthetic over the intellectual. Yet, the work remains reflective and dependent on the original concept.”

Born in Indiana in 1970, raised in Fort Worth and now residing in Chicago, Salavon earned his B.A. from the University of Texas and his M.F.A. from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Salavon taught at the Art Institute and worked in the video game industry for many years as an artist and programmer. Currently, he is an assistant professor of visual arts at the University of Chicago, where he is also the only member of the humanities faculty with a dual appointment in the Computation Institute.

Salavon has been written about in publications such as Artforum, Art in America, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Wired and Contemporary. His work has been shown at The Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Columbus Museum of Art, The Frye Museum in Seattle, the Seoul Museum of Art, the Seattle Art Museum, the International Center of Photography and the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. Many of these institutions have also acquired Salavon’s work for their collections. In 2007, the National Portrait Gallery purchased Salavon’s video triptych The Late Night Triad, making it the first electronic artwork in the museum’s permanent collection.