Above: »Electric Fields III.« Realtime software application, 2014.
JR: I work primarily with software as a material – I write computer code to generate moving imagery. Working with software is a hybrid, almost multi-disciplinary practice since it fuses so many different modes of image making from the past: photography, painting, cinema, and animation. My work manifests as run-time graphics software, digital prints, VR worlds, and iPhone applications.
The code that I write typically isn’t explicit; it’s a loose set of instructions run by the computer that dictate the appearance and behavior of graphical forms. Each time the computer runs the code, the results are slightly different. In a way, I utilize the computer as a collaborator who continues to make the work.
My smaller projects are typically more exploratory and improvisational, where I spend hours sketching on paper and programming and then tweaking those programs to get the right imagery. Larger projects, like this one or Action Painting typically require significant research, planning, and labor. I like these works to develop slowly over time, as it offers more time for reflection on the results.
CH: How would you describe the current status of digital art and what is your take on post-internet art?
JR: I’m no expert on the topic, but, aside from the awkwardness of its name, it’s relevant to have a category for the generation of artists who have grown up online and who operate fluidly between virtual and physical spaces (or don’t even see a distinction, for that matter) and whose works speaks to network effects. This new version of Internet art seems to have higher production values and is certainly more commercially minded. Call me nostalgic, but I sometimes miss the throbbing insanity of early browser based art.
It is exciting to see how digital art is proliferating right now after decades at the sidelines, with artists using technology in their practice getting more exposure and opportunities within the art world. As Rhizome’s Michael Connor has pointed out, »›internet culture‹« is just ›culture.‹« I suppose that digital art will also lose its adjective one day soon. I’m excited about platforms like Electric Objects, FRAMED*, and OpenFrame, pushing distribution methods and bringing digital art into people’s homes through screens that access collections of still and moving-image work as well as web-based art.
CH: Which other digital artists interest and/or influence you?
JR: It’s not easy to list! Being from Toronto, I had the opportunity to see David Rokeby’swork frequently and I was really attracted to the projects in which he used computer vision to create densely layered and sometimes painterly collections of visual data – of people moving through spaces, passing automobiles, pigeons, etc. I’ve been inspired by Jason Salavon’s data visualizations and image averaging algorithms that operate on cultural data and other social artifacts – Hollywood films, music videos, Playboy centerfolds, high school albums, Pantone charts, etc. I really admire Jennifer Steinkamp’s use of architecture, projection and all-over compositions. I’ve been following LaTurbo Avedon’s online museum, Panther Modern. LaTurbo invited over 15 artists to create installations that exist within virtual rooms that she designed. The responses range from the immersive, to the sublime, to the impossible. Andrew Benson’s weirdo character animations and Zach Lieberman’s recent burst of dynamic computational forms keep my Twitter feed interesting.