Since 1986, Joseph Nechvatal has been making computer-robotic assisted paintings. His paintings allow the tradition of canvas painting to integrate into our present digital times. In this sense he has been creating an interface between the virtual and the actual - what Nechvatal calls the "viractual".
an algorithic hermaphornology
May 22 - July 3 2002
Universal Concepts Unlimited announces the opening of new media pioneer Joseph Nechvatal's exhibition "vOluptuary : an algorithic hermaphornology". This exhibition consists of recent computer-robotic assisted paintings on canvas and a complimentary custom real-time operative artificial-life viral computer application which consumes the file images on which the paintings are based. There will be an opening party on Wednesday, May 22nd from 6-8 PM.
Since 1986, Joseph Nechvatal has been making computer-robotic assisted paintings. His paintings allow the tradition of canvas painting to integrate into our present digital times. In this sense he has been creating an interface between the virtual and the actual - what Nechvatal calls the "viractual". It is through this exploration of viractuality which has brought Nechvatal to the creation of complex numeric viractual images which typically consist of a mixture of drawing, digital-photography, painting, written language, and externalized computer code - all of which is submitted to computational manipulations (including viral attacks). His current work, called "vOluptuary: an algorithic hermaphornology" (1) stems from a computer virus program developed by the artist in 1991 as a Louis Pasteur artist-in-residence in Arbois, France. Nechvatal's featured paintings translate intimate body images of both sexes into basic pictorial units of which he and his computer-virus mutate and metamorphose.
Joseph Nechvatal has exhibited his work widely in Europe and the United States, both in private and public venues. He is in the permanent collection of the Los Angeles County Museum, the Moderna Musset in Stockholm and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. His work was included in Document 8. His web-site, with full CV, collected writings, and various essays on his work can be found at : http://www.nechvatal.net
For downloadable digital images of the computer-robotic assisted paintings in "vOluptuary : an algorithic hermaphornology" and/or to see the artist statement concerning this show see: http://www.eyewithwings.net/nechvatal/algorithic.html
"vOluptuary: an algorithic hermaphornology" makes use of what Gilles Deleuze has called pornologyâ€™ (2) for here representations of the intimate body associated with sexuality (of both sexes) undergo an intricate re-combination and subsequent intermixture with flowers. Of crucial interest to "vOluptuary: an algorithic hermaphornology" is the origin of the hermaphroditic androgyny image. This hybrid image first appears in OvidÂ¹s classic text Metamorphosesâ€™ - and perhaps this emergence is well worth recounting here. The hermaphrodite initially occurs in Western culture as a son of Hermes and Aphrodite named Hermaphroditus. Hermaphroditus was a typical, if exceptionally handsome, young male with whom the water nympth Salmacis fell madly in love. When Hermaphroditus rejected her sexual advances, Salmacis voyeuristicly observed him from afar while desiring him fiercely. Finally, one spring day Hermaphroditus stripped nude and dove into the pool of water which was Salmacisâ€™s habitat. Salmacis immediately dove in after him - embracing him and wrapping her body around his, just as, Ovid says, ivy does around a tree. She then prayed to the gods that she would never be separated from him - a prayer that they answered favorably. Consequently, Hermaphroditus emerged from the pool both man and woman.
As the tale of Hermaphroditus suggests, "vOluptuary: an algorithic hermaphornology" is a show of androgyny eroticism married to flowery virtuality (3), incomprehensible transformation and immersive excess. It aims to depict an imagined realm of political-spiritual chaosmos where new forms of sexual order arise such that any form of order is only temporary and provisional. Obviously this sphere is attained through an emergent operation, and, indeed, Nechvatal takes abundant pleasure in the forms of pan-order that arise within his continuously swelling processes. The point is that within the "vOluptuary" all sexual signs are subject to boundless semiosis - which is to say that they are translatable into other signs. Here, of course, it is possible to find resonances and affinities between sexual opposites. Here a chameleon-like sexual attitude is being built from the virtual abyss.
Within the realm of the "vOluptuary" no one fathoms whether they are female or male. All rest between male and female, between straight and gay, between dominant and submissive - nothing but curves and clefts. All is in a matrix of possibilities, self-assembled out of a flowery excess of erogenous organs.
(1) The word voluptuaryâ€™ generally means devoted to pleasureâ€™. It comes from a Late-Latin variant of the Latin voluptarius / voluptas.
(2) Pornology is aimed at confronting an idea with its own limits. The idea is rendered precise in Deleuzeâ€™s essay "Klossowski or Bodies-Language" which is found in his book The Logic of Senseâ€™. Here Deleuze develops the term "pornology" so as to describe the dynamic of a transcendental empiricism in the circuit Klossowski establishes between theology, as a divine belief structure, and pornography, as a perverse expression of the body.
(3) One here thinks of Alan Turing (the grandfather of computing) and his horrid endurance of a quack treatment for his homosexuality where he was overdosed with female hormones to the point where he developed breasts.
Image: pansexual feeriquer (delicate) computer-robotic assisted acrylic on canvas, 51 x 96 inches by Joseph Nechvatal Â© 2001 Joseph Nechvatal
HOURS: Tuesday - Saturday 11am - 6pm
Universal Concepts Unlimited
507 West 24h Street
New York, NY 10011
Contact : Marian Ziola / Wolf-Dieter Stoeffelmeier