Odyssey pandemOnium

drifting telemachus 2014 computer-robotic assisted acrylic on velours canvas 44 x 66”

drifting telemachus, 2014 computer-robotic assisted acrylic on velours canvas 44 x 66”


Odyssey pandemOnium
a migrational metaphor

November 15th – December 16th
Opening November 15th from 4 – 8 pm  

Galerie Richard 121 Orchard Street, New York City


Odyssey pandemOnium is a new series of paintings by Joseph Nechvatal that returns us symbolically to Homer’s displaced champion and his odd wanderings. However, Odyssey pandemOnium does not illustrate Homer’s epic poem. Rather, hints of classical sumptuousness and visual order are here submitted to controlled disorder through indeterminacy. This chance element is important in the construction of a lyrical consideration of human migration.

The characters Odysseus, his son Telemachus, his waiting wife Penelope, Polyphemus, Poseidon and a lyric siren loosely come together to suggest the beauty and pain of the migrating world. Present in the paintings is a partially hidden world of people and places (and images) lost and at ideological drift, looking for scenic alternatives.

The 10 paintings of Odyssey pandemOnium are conceptually situated within Nechvatal’s immersive noise theory. They make use of a complicated turmoil produced from close exchanges within figure/ground relationships that challenges us to think outside of the normal system of human perception. Classical looking figures are embedded into a complex and subtle ground so that the normal figure/ground relationship more or less merges. Painted on suede-like velours canvas, the colors used are dusty and subtle. This new support better contributes to the fugitive nature of the floating and migrating imagery. That double intricacy is what Odyssey pandemOnium is about, in one sense: being misplaced and adrift. The viewer’s eye must navigate the visual pandemonium in a way that suggests Odysseus’s wanderings.

This pandemonium is characteristic of Nechvatal’s art-of-noise theory that he established in his book Immersion Into Noise in 2011 and further developed last year in his Punctum Press book, Minóy.

Within the framework of Odyssey pandemOniumPunctum Press has launched a book with an original epic poem about the eros of the eye by Joseph Nechvatal entitled Destroyer of Naivetés.



About josephnechvatal

Joseph Nechvatal is an American post-conceptual artist who creates virus-modeled artificial life computer-assisted paintings and animations. Themes he has addressed in his art include the apocalyptic, communication excess, the virus, and gender fluidity. In 1975, he moved from Chicago to the downtown Tribeca area of New York City. He began studying at Columbia University with the philosopher Arthur Danto while working for the Dia Art Foundation as archivist to the minimalist composer La Monte Young. In 1980, he moved from Tribeca to the sordid Lower East Side where he found artistic camaraderie and politically inspired creative energy. There he became closely associated with Collaborative Projects (Colab), the influential post-punk artists’ group that included Kiki Smith and Jenny Holzer, among others. Those were glory days for the famous Colab projects, such as Just Another Asshole, The Real Estate Show and The Times Square Show. He also helped establish the non-profit cultural space ABC No Rio, where exhibitions were animated by political purpose. In the early 1980s, his art consisted of dense post-minimalist gray graphite drawings (that were sometimes photo-mechanically enlarged), of sculpture, of photographs, and of musique concrète audio collages. In 1983, he co-founded the famous avant-garde art music project Tellus Audio Cassette Magazine. In 1984, he created an opera called XS: The Opera Opus (1984-6) with the no wave musical composer Rhys Chatham that was presented in Boston and New York. In 1986, Nechvatal began using computer-robotics to make conceptual paintings. Some were exhibited at Documenta VIII in 1987. In 1992, when he was artist-in-residence at the Louis Pasteur Atelier in Arbois and at the Saline royale d’Arc-et-Senans, he created computer virus codes that he used as an artistic tool. This work was a reflection on his personal experiences of risk and loss with the AIDS epidemic. In 1999, he earned his doctorat in the philosophy of aesthetics and technology in England and soon wrote two art theory books: Towards an Immersive Intelligence and Immersion Into Noise. In 2001, he extended his initial experimentations into the virus as an artistic painterly tool in a series of artificial life works. These works include various series of paintings, animations, and a lengthy audio composition entitled viral symphOny. He has created a series of virus-based themed exhibitions of artificial life paintings and animation projections that explore the fragility and fluidity of the human body. You can follow him on Twitter at @twinkletwink Homepage: http://www.nechvatal.net
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