Reese Inman

Belfast, Maine, USA

Each painting represents a dialogue between a specific computer algorithm and my hand. Intended to reflect contemporary experience in which human and computer decisions—and corresponding actions—are increasingly inextricable from one another, my work explores the landscape of information proliferation, permutation, and overload, while emphasizing human involvement and corresponding culpability. Due to this combination of the hands-off exactitude of computer technology with the hands-on discipline of painting, the final work merges a sense of technological precision with the handmade quality and intense detail associated with traditional painting.

Visual language
My fascination with the paint droplet began with the idea of a droplet as the most basic unit of paint, much as a bit is the most basic unit of digital information. Through the incident of each droplet, the limits of artistic control inherent within the process create tension between uniformity and individuality—while from a distance the droplets appear geometric and uniform, upon closer inspection no two are identical. The underlying grid reflects the human-ordered layout common to data storage, pixellated displays, circuit boards and city streets. My palette draws from contemporary metropolitan experience, mixing the nondescript browns and greys of generic city architecture with the vivid, saturated colors of signs, advertising, and the RGB workspace of computer monitors.

Each painting begins inside the computer using a custom program that I have designed and authored. First, a computer algorithm creates data within a flexible ruleset that leaves many decisions up to the computer. Next, the program translates the data as colored dots within a grid, literally mapping the path and decisions of the algorithm to generate a computer image that is then printed to serve as the cartoon for the painting.

The painting process unfolds as follows. After adhering the cartoon to a panel, I render each colored dot as a paint droplet, strictly following the computer output while deliberately leaving the occasional error, as when two adjacent droplets merge together, as an acknowledgement of imperfection. Then, layers of paint are repeatedly built up and removed, using hand processes of painting and sanding which bring my touch and intuitive judgment into the process, such that the droplets become raised dots, surrounded by tiny rings of color. The most recent work explores successive filtering and rearranging of the same data set through several paintings.

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