Artie Vierkant’s image objects are hybridized constructs existing within the increasingly limited threshold of online and offline. They bring into focus the fraught modes of seeing art today, specifically within the online superstructure that now governs so much of our contemporary art observership. In his essay The Image Object Post-Internet Vierkant refers to a “lack of fixity in representational strategy” and a seamless movement “from physical representation to internet representation.” These descriptors can no doubt be applied to the creation of his ongoing Image Object sculpture series (2011-ongoing). The works begin life as a digital file, are fabricated as UV prints on dibond and later circulate as digitally manipulated installation photographs. This is their means of circulation. In appearance, the works have a visual fluidity, flowing ‘brush’ strokes (both in their physical fabrication and online making) create an amorphous, layered semblance laden with transparency that shifts smoothly between rasterization and exhibition space; between pixels and printed matter. As the artist explains on his website “experience becomes split between the physical encounter in a gallery setting and the countless variations.” Reproducibility becomes an intrinsic aesthetic feature.
Vierkant’s episodically converted files have inspired forms of visual art that appear across contemporary galleries that present themselves on the internet. Digitally manipulated installation views have been incorporated into the practice of more and more artists looking to challenge the supposedly objective representational capacity of exhibition documentation. The mediated experience is augmented also by Vierkant’s confessed desire for collaborative engagement. He explains that a participation which shifts the forms of Image Objects is desirable effect: “the things that get me very excited are when a piece is acted upon by someone else, instead of simply re-sharing…” Alteration bears no negative connotation; though Image Objects, which are titled according to the date and time of when their original photoshop files are first produced, they become one and the same with their transcended document images which have the same title.
The Image Object body of work should also be considered in conjunction with the time in which Vierkant entered into the vernacular of online art making. In essence his sculptures mark a transitionary segue from the ‘net art – aka Internet Art or net.art, which began to exist as a defined movement in 1994 – to a more contemporaneous set of artistic protocols. The ‘net art popularised by protagonists of the movement such as Olia Lialina, Alexei Shulgin, Jodi, and Vuk Ćosić among others, dealt with, and continues to deal with, online coding, in-browser glitches and forms of freeware. Image Objects, similarly traffic in the lo-fi aesthetic realm, except today, rudimentary photo shopping is considered lo-fi while previously in mid 1990s, the resolution of images that circulated online, coupled with slower computer processing speeds and less sophisticated image editing software made photo-editing a comparatively more arduous ordeal.
The inspiring capacity to edit images and share on smartphones, now ubiquitous, facilitates transmission at a rate previously implausible, especially through social media, now an important component of many artists work whether or not this is readily admitted. Vierkant has addressed this sociability and it’s impact asserting that the “value of an artist’s production is not in the value of the works they construct (a decidedly subjective idea) but instead in the net of relations and citations they instigate socially…” Whether or not one agrees with this postulation, Image Objects embody a contemporaneous spirit of digitally networked sociability.