Joseph Nechvatal ~ Artist Statement for 2022
My art has always been concerned with invisible powers. When something is obscure in art, it stimulates thought and feeling if you trust the art and stay with it. That is why I have a persisting interest is the palimpsest style, that I often mix with mythological motifs transfigured by technology so as to explore contemporary social-sexual themes.
My sensually provocative and perverse art practice is modeled on the sybaritic quasi-thematic art of Marcel Duchamp as connected to the mystic writing pad that Sigmund Freud used to describe how the unconscious works. (The way it retains inscriptions even though they are partially effaced.) Through my palimpsest paintings (created with custom C++ artificial-life software modeled as a virus and spray-painted on canvas), digital animations, and audio art, I attempt to convey something of the overlapping shimmering chaos that defines our information society, where we, driven by frivolous lunacy, are absorbed into an electronic excess without fixity. That is why my lapidary aesthetic highlights a visually-anarchic semi-private vernacular that comes from beneath and within ancillary noise fields.
Through these obfuscations of sybaritic paganism within visual noise, I give to the palimpsest a dandified grandeur where myriads of possibilities resist a collapse into blunt conclusions. I believe that pop images must be mentally pulverized into visual noise in order to release them into a new invisible life of becoming latent. That makes for an art that is not only a sign-object, but also a form of intersubjective communication.
I feel that art can create powerful feeling-thinking fields that address the invisible intuitive side of human nature and so aid in a cultural revolution of new myths, methods, and metaphors that should have an energetic historical reality in the minds of those who value culture today and the dynamic and multilayered self. Perhaps it is needless to say that the mercurial drifting of the artificial-life virus within visual noise fields is extraordinarily poignant during the panic of pandemic and post-pandemic periods.