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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Artist Lecture: Penelope Umbrico

"For Sale/TVs From Craigslist"

"Suns From Flickr"


It is startling how well Penelope Umbrico is able to articulate her work; with her modified titles for the installation of Suns From Flickr, and the sort of beauty-by-default abstract painting/digital prints she creates in Broken Sets (eBay), I find it fascinating that a certain aspect of her work is completely dependent on the patterns and trends existing in our culture. She would casually bring up queries that she finds while making work, and each thought sort of multiplied into several.

Her collection of Suns made me think of the commonality of human experience. To think that a fleeting (but repetitive) beauty in nature, such as a sun setting, could be captured as an attempt to preserve its existence, only solidifies its impermanence. From the time that image is made, I feel we are automatically forced into a performance of desensitization; however long it takes, eventually the image will never maintain the momentum of the initial experience of its creation. Her methods of searching the ever-growing database for these pictures and cropping out their individuality was really interesting, because it made me question the phenomenon that takes over our digital world. The desire to own/capture definitely comes to light, as more people contribute these individual experiences, only to be returned and pooled into a subject that is so common, an artist can search Flicker (because such visual databases exist) to find exactly that but multiplied by the thousands. The cycle is fascinating.

I’m also drawn to the conceptual abstraction that surfaces with Broken Sets (eBay). There lies a percentage of factors that are beyond her control, such as the performance of each individual set, and the electric lines that pulsate like glowing threads on the screens. She manages to reverse this understanding or ignorance, rather, of what people accept as broken, transforming the cluttered masses into a collection of individual ‘paintings.’ The territory that her work encompasses seems to reach full cycle as it is reinserted into the realm from which it came.

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