John Pomara, "Digital Debris" exhibit at Barry Whistler, Dallas, TX, Oct-Nov 2020

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Eric Shaw writes about painter John Pomara in Glasstire, the Texas online art magazine. An excerpt from his essay:

The artist had a revelatory moment in 2011 when he discovered a website spazzing out, creating picture mash-ups that captured his imagination. He screen-saved like mad for two days before the resident web-master stuck a savvy thumb in the download dike.

That spurred Pomara to learn just enough coding to frack his own on-screen picture streams. He now captures these pastiche beasts, and reconfigures them still more by layering and, occasionally — for the love of white — by pouring on bleach. This wipes out structured sections of his fragmented pictures, reclaiming drip-technique appearances we naturally attribute to Neo Ex and Ab Ex exemplaries.

Ever since Lascaux, artists have exploited the misshapen aspects of undersurfaces to inspire figure, line, and shape. Pomara couldn’t be looking at anything less dense than a cave wall, but his strategy’s the same: use the rich diaspora of Lady Chance to guide one’s hand. Make nice with your “mistakes.” Give the glitch a brush and make it paint a wall.

He still roves the rabid lands we see on laptops for found objects — instances of mistaken juxtaposition, errant cropping, or bad coding. His reports on encountering this stuff is uncanny. I’ve never seen it. (Have you?) Pomara sees it all the time. The fates are going to bat for this man it seems.

As Rauschenberg adopted a scavenger’s aesthetic in the ‘50s, utilizing the detritus of city streets and pop culture to create rummage-strewn compositions, Pomara is a Rauschenberg of electron viewscapes. He builds an aesthetic from that world’s flotsam and puts it in canvases and prints — ones that are made through mechanical processes themselves.

I responded with a comment:

Thanks for this in-depth look at Pomara’s work; in all the extensive writing that’s been done on him in the past (catalog essays, newspaper articles, online journalism), his “glitch” processes and the reasons behind them are rarely if ever explained with such detail or passion.
One comment of the author’s surprised me -- that he hadn’t himself seen “instances of mistaken juxtaposition, errant cropping, or bad coding” while surfing the web.
The sellers of smartphones and social media interfaces certainly aim for a “seamless” experience and anyone who actually has one is to be congratulated. My own experience of the web, on a range of devices, with even the fastest connections, is one of half-rendered pages, mistakenly sized fonts, and blinking dropdown menus. There are actually websites and entire communities devoted to the unseamless experience in all its humor and horror. “Annoying.technology,” “The Website Obesity Crisis,” “The Triumphant Rise of the Shitpic” and “In Defense of the Poor Image” are just a few examples.

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I took the photos in this post in the gallery, while the show was up. It's hard to get across the physical presence of the work. Below is a detail (unfortunately grainy) showing the honeycomb aluminum panel and some of the glitch patterning converted from internet to paint.

"March of the Covids" screening at ICOSA Gallery, Austin, TX, documentation

As promised, I am posting some post-show documentation of St Celfer's performance at ICOSA Collective, Austin, TX, on December 12, 2020. The images came from the gallery and other sources. First, a phone shot (rotated to normal orientation) depicting a laptop and large screen monitor streaming the video of the St Celfer/Tom Moody release eleven tracks, a compilation which includes St Celfer's song "March of the Covids" (https://youtu.be/e_zaeQ-SpzQ):

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Next, a couple of pics from the gallery showing the scale and space of the artwork. There were two viewing stations streaming the video:

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And last, "social media reactions" including a blurry close-up and sound excerpt from the video:

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St Celfer and Tom Moody "eleven tracks" Video - excerpt from Tom Moody on Vimeo.

The video as it appeared playing on a device:

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St Celfer and Tom Moody “eleven tracks” Video - excerpt 2 from Tom Moody on Vimeo.

And the video playing in the gallery:

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St Celfer and Tom Moody "eleven tracks" Video - Installation from Tom Moody on Vimeo.

[Note: embedded players -- which I basically hate -- are replaced with links when they move off the blog front page]

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St Celfer (aka John Parker) discusses his recent art and music via Zoom:

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Methods of Negotiation - Closing Reception - St Celfer from Art Music Lit Space on Vimeo.

Art Music Lit Space is a post-post-internet virtual community seeking to "probe the chasm together so suddenly imposed by social distancing measures" by providing a "locus for artists, curators, writers, lookers, listeners, feelers and thinkers to show, share, and connect despite the nearly global closure of physical exhibition spaces such as studios, galleries, basements, museums, schools, art fairs, fields, etc."

The performance of St Celfer's musical piece "March of the Covids" (featured on our recent collaboration and on St Celfer's Bandcamp page) was realized (or rather, virtualized) by Art Music Lit Space as an embedded sound clip on a blog page; the Vimeo above is more in the nature of post-show documentation.

When the music was performed last week in Austin (described in an earlier post) it was displayed as a YouTube video with an abstract video component (and encoded bonus content for YouTube users), on multiple large screen monitors with speakers behind each screen.

"Post-post-internet" is a joke, of course. "Post-internet" was a brief, curator-driven quasi-movement that dealt with art-with-internet-content being shown in galleries. It was a bizarre name because of course the internet never ended and in fact most gallery activity didn't exist in people's consciousnesses until it appeared there. Covid simply takes the gallery out of the loop. Yet, as we saw in Austin, some physical spaces still exist (and in Austin they had about twenty mask-wearing visitors). Once I have documentation of people walking around the room while the video plays, I'll post it, and that will be the so-called post-internet manifestation. [Update: Some documentation of the event is here.]

"March of the Covids" screening at ICOSA Gallery, Austin, TX, today

Reminder: The video described below will be shown today from 3-6 pm Central at ICOSA Gallery in Austin, TX (with YouTube "simulcast" at https://youtu.be/e_zaeQ-SpzQ).

Our music release, eleven tracks, which comprises the audio portion of the screening, will be published on Bandcamp tomorrow (Sunday, December 13). Update: Bandcamp version

 

Screenshot from the gallery's Instagram promotion (click or tap for more legible, full-size text):

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Text of announcement (with bios):

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

St Celfer Performance at ICOSA Collective, December 12, 2020

Austin, TX

St Celfer’s musical work “March of the Covids” will be performed at the ICOSA space in an unusual way -- as an abstract, encoded YouTube video. The song made its original appearance at the Casagaleria art space in São Paulo, Brazil as a 16 channel audio composition “distributed” in the gallery through directional speakers. At ICOSA the work will be presented virtually in the form of video projections, in a new, collaborative incarnation. “Covids” will be “played” as one of a suite of recent compositions by St Celfer, who is currently based in Seattle, and his long-time collaborator Tom Moody, a New York artist and musician.

Eleven tracks by the two artists have been converted to video using Pitahaya, a software program created by John Romero. Pitahaya turns the audio (which can still be heard) into a stream of random pixels resembling TV snow and QR codes. Uploaded to YouTube, the 35-minute video will be played by the gallery and may be watched like a Stan Brakhage-like abstraction, with fluctuating, chaotic correspondences between picture and sound. The video has embedded content but there is nothing subliminal or mystical about it: instead, Pitahaya has been used to convert a CD-quality version of the eleven songs, which can be downloaded and decoded as explained at http://jollo.org/LNT/doc/pitahaya/.

The audiovisual performance runs from 3-6 PM Central on December 12, 2020.

Biographical information

St Celfer has drawings (http://stcelfer.blogspot.com/) that have been recently acquired by the Museum of Contemporary Art, São Paulo and in November 2020, released “Suites #1-9” (https://stcelfer.bandcamp.com/album/suites-1-9). He has exhibited and performed primarily in New York as John Parker (http://www.eyekhan.com/index1.html) among other aliases.

Tom Moody is a New York-based artist (https://tommoody.us) and musician (https://tommoody.bandcamp.com/). Most recently his work was seen in the exhibition "PAUSE (prelude)" at Künstlerverbund im Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany.

John Romero is an artist and programmer who was a member of the Computers Club collective (under the name Rene Abythe) and was profiled on Rhizome.org at https://rhizome.org/editorial/2011/dec/08/artist-profile-rene-abythe/. His website is at http://jollo.org/LNT/home/fanfare/.