Video Photo Info

 “I would like to say to those who think of my pictures as serene that I have imprisoned the most utter violence in every inch of their surface.” 
- Mark Rothko 

In the wake of World War II, modern art witnessed a split concurrent with new geopolitical configurations. The US State Department started championing abstract expressionism as capturing the spirit of the American way of life, while the Soviet Union gravitated to a state-sponsored socialist realism, a stylistic approach that found heroic gestures in the everyday life of the working class. Effulgence is an artwork that attempts to coalesce abstraction and realism, rewriting 20th Century artistic debates via present-day digital media. 

The artwork is a generative project that creates abstract compositions reminiscent of the paintings of one of the most significant members of the New York School: Mark Rothko. Soft-edged rectangles floating over a diffuse background shift from one composition to another with barely imperceptible transitions. Behind these compositions, a custom made-algorithm is randomly selecting an image from the World Press Photo catalogue and reinterpreting it as a Rothko-like painting. The over 2,500 images in the archives of World Press Photo, a prestigious yearly award in the field of photo-journalism, become the palette for this algorithmic project. The contours of selected photographs seep into the abstract composition as barely legible brushstrokes. The photos are analyzed for their chromatic values, and aid to build a color palette for the abstract compositions. Via a keyboard, viewers can momentarily reveal the photographic images that the abstractions are pulling from. 

Effulgence references both canvas and screen, from the shimmering surfaces of a color-field painting to the glowing color-field environments of a James Turrel or Robert Irwin installation. The artwork explores the distinctive materialities of both paintings and photographs, and how they intersect on the luminous screen of digital media. Effulgence is also a work about perception, and how we struggle to frame the world we inhabit. Its soft-focus painterly compositions, and the gritty photos that generate them, reveal an underlying contradiction in all representation: sometimes images can help us get closer to the world, while other times they protect us from it. 
4K screen, generative custom software, computer.