real and virtual paint metastasization



Top: Tabor Robak, paint-fx-3 (found filename), jpeg
Bottom: Roxy Paine, canvas dipped multiple times in automated paint dipping machine built by the artist

The now defunct paintFX dot biz collective that Robak was part of was problematic (and not in a good way) because it remained stubbornly rooted in 2D traditions of "abstract art" that were already exhausted beyond critique, without finding a way to get on top of the subject matter, other than adding a tech gloss. But the example of his work above (hat tip Jeffrey Henderson) makes sense as a virtual meta-painting based on a sculptural or Supports/Surfaces-like high tech reimagining of paint conventions. Below is Roxy Paine's real-life counterpart, made with elaborate electromechanical hardware that for what it's worth also had a computer monitor attached to it.
Both of these images compel because their notion of the monochrome is hyperbolic to the point of grotesqueness. It's painting recast as some kind of stem cell experiment gone badly wrong -- painting as disease.
Robak's work is a thought experiment about painting, a model that will never be built, which seems superior to Paine's overdetermined, resource-intensive, probably-always-breaking-down-in-the-gallery method of making a similar point about the pathologies of the material painting tradition: fetishization of the object and "touch" to the point that the skin needs artificial growth hormones, with their attendant dangers.