Artist Statement: INTERNET MOUNTAINS @ Stephen Bulger, Sept 17-Oct 15, 2016

 

MOUNTAINS ARE THE OPPOSITE OF THE INTERNET

The internet is full of mountains – ones that you can’t touch, or walk on, because they’ve been dissolved into math and reconstituted into weightless images.

Mountains can seem conservative, like any landscape. In the 19th and 20th centuries, directing light through a lens onto film and then a thin piece of photographic paper was a magical but politically meaningful act (to ‘capture’ a mountain’s image could imply ownership). But mountains were there before politics began – before men with expensive cameras, or white people, or human privilege. As big as the internet has become, mountains will still be there when it’s gone.

Mountains are the ultimate object. They’re valued for their symbolic weight, and they’re saddled with cultural freight. They also vibrate with strong diagonal lines that lenses and paint brushes love. Despite their immutability, they can seem alive and dynamic.

 

HALFWAY UP A MOUNTAIN

This show marks the mid-point in the making of the INTERNET MOUNTAINS project. The second half of the project will be partly devoted to a single, large work to be made with modded game creation software – a generative artwork entitled INTERNET MOUNTAINS (2018). That work will interact with the paper and moving image mediums in this show, creating a conversation between objects, post-cinema, and chance.

In this show, I’ve also included two generative artworks from another project: Dirty Film, and MOUNTAINS, REPETITION. They’re made from hacked software (HTML and javascript) so they complete themselves, live. Due to their algorithmic chance operations they can’t be seen the same way twice.

 

MOUNTAINS AS FRONTIER ZONES

With this project, I’m exploring the spaces between certain major art categories. Art world boundaries have changed a lot in recent years, and many borders have become dotted lines. But broader dichotomies remain, to be challenged as true or false: time-based versus non-time-based art; the tangible versus intangible; lens-based versus no-lens photography; proto-cinema versus post-cinema; or just montage versus motif.

Between these categories are frontier zones that are filled with colourful conflict, battling ideas, and useful tension. And that’s where we live now, between mountains and the internet.

 

OLD MOUNTAINS AND NEW MEDIA

I’m working with found mountains from the internet, manipulating them using graphics and 3D modelling or animation tools. The resulting landscapes are equally connected to the history of landscape photography and painting, and to the use of geometric shapes in abstract art.

The geometric 3D objects in each work are engaged in a new form of battle dance. They fight it out, like Kandinsky arguing with other artists about the meaning of a circle, or the colour red. They reflect the battle we’re witnessing today between the traditional art world of mass and texture, versus dynamic media and the newest ephemeral art forms. Who will win?