A Review of “Open” by Aislinn Stone
On November 6th, 2009, a group show organized by Bradley Wester called “Open” opened in the Crossley Gallery. The exhibition included the seventeen fine arts juniors that make up Mr. Wester's Painting III class: Kris Brian, Justine Delman, Daniel Dias, Julienne Duverny, Jeffrey Heart, Brittney Hollinger, Georgie Landy, Paul Link, Therese Mcpherson, Max Moore, Cheryl Murphy, Alexandra Plemmons, Trisha Rampersad, Treavor Rennick, Rachel Robbins, Megan Scott and E. Danielle Slaughter. The show included sculptures, paintings and installations. There was a diverse range of art including: abstractions, self portraits, and political pieces (or so I thought, judging from a painting by Treavor Rennick).
The painting by Rennick was my favorite overall. My first impression was that the work referenced the war in Iraq, due to the desert colored sand and the images of a dead soldier, woman and ghost. When I asked the artist about the meaning behind the work, he told me it dealt with female first person shooters who were out to kill ghosts in a video game. This increased my interest in the work. The figures and the ghost were painted using a simple black outline. The shooter had fallen dead onto a wash of light orange ground meeting with a faded purple sky. The scale of the painting was appropriate, and the use of black outline and minimal use of faded color made for a very simplistic yet strong image.
Many artists have used subject matter from video games for their work. This is a way of working that is prevalent in the world today. Some of these artists include Damiano Colacito who has remade elements of the video game Halo into life size versions keeping the objects planer texture and visual appearance from in the game. Another artist Brody Condon has worked with first person shooter games documenting character suicides and in more recent work he has created projections one might assume is a scene from a video game that remake old religious paintings using elements from his own personal computer animations. Both these artists exhibit internationally and were part of a group show in Tampa, Florida titled Audience and Avatar. This new wave of video game artists is spreading worldwide. Art has gone from referencing video games to having a virtual art world within one such as in the game “Second Life”, which well known artists such as Cao Fei have chosen as their art medium. In Second Life players are encouraged to scan in art or create art works in game, and sell these to other players. There is even an art star in the game named StarAx Statovsky who has already had his work in a retrospective at the game's Aho Art Museum. Second Life even has its own art magazine called Slart that aims to bring real art world issues to the virtual world within the game.
All of these young artists mentioned above along with Treavor Rennick raise common issues that come with being part of Generations Y and Z, generations characterized by being highly connected to video games, computer games, media technologies, the World Wide Web and cell phones. Those of us born in the 80's and beyond have been nicknamed the “digital natives” by theorists and scientists. I expect we shall see an increased number of artists who use video games as a medium for their work as the playing of such games increases within the general public. The difference between the artists listed above and Rennick's work is that he doesn't use elements or story lines of video games already in existence, but refers to a video game he himself made up. Rennick also holds onto the tradition of painting in his narratives taken from his video game world.