Tabor Robak

Drinking Bird Seasons, 2015

HD video, real-time 3D

Dimensions Variable


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Artwork
Description

Drinking Bird explores the changing perceptions of consumers within an increasingly digitalised world. The work also explores the perceived materiality of digital media that bleeds into an extrapolation of l’art pour l’art and the aestheticisation of modern commodities that ultimately places the value of an object in its use rather than in its production.

The work can be viewed as an Internet enabled painting. It incorporates the interactions of imaginary fluids in a digital simulation overlaid by an atomically correct digital. This can be seen as an expression of these digital objects existing in a very real time and space, while in another sense being an irreal object that only exists as it is perceived. This is further enhanced by the use of a physics engine to create a tangible sense of fluidity, incorporating different viscosities and opacities resulting in the effect of liquids with variable surface tensions.

The title of the work is taken from a toy heat engine that, using the basic principles of thermodynamics, mimics the movements of a bird drinking from a birdbath. This is an expression of the varied applications of technology and scientific discovery and the technologising process which society has been a part of since its inception. This speaks of the use of scientific principles as a source of aesthetic enjoyment and also suggests that society has undergone numerous technological revolutions of which the digital is one. However, unlike the drinking bird toy, which is an exercise in repetition,  this painting is continually changing with almost infinite possibilities. The work encompasses all colour pallets, moods and effects. The screen mimics that of a smart phone and in doing so speaks about the increasing presence of a world, which is intuitively customisable and available at one’s fingers but ultimately chaotic. This is reflected in the work’s abstract appearance that connects it to a semiotic system, which reaches its subject through a transcendental relationship. This is diametrically opposed to the Smartphone, which aims at concrete connections to the intuitable world around oneself.

About
the artist

Tabor Robak (b. 1986) was born in Portland, Oregon and now lives and works in New York. He received his BFA at Pacific Northwest College of Art in 2010.

Tabor Robak started his career as a graphic designer, working with multinational brands such as Nike and T-Mobile. This gave him an understanding of marketing, and the use of digital technology to create images designed to sell; the visual language used by multi-nationals. The artist’s virtuosity with programs such as Photoshop, CINEMA 4D and Unity allows him to generate vivid and unique scenes often displayed across multiple high definition panels.

There is a dramatic tension in his work between the real and the imagined in his use of often-appropriated digital objects to create virtual landscapes, which frequently contain elements – animals, machines, fragments of videogames – that are recognisable from our day to day life. This creates a symbiotic relationship between the digital and the real. In a very real way digital space has now become an intangible reality. The worlds built by Robak have a distinctly cinematic sensibility that hyperbolises the shine and dramatic effects of 3D rendered animation. The aesthetic of his work is supremely important, drawing the viewer into a truly alluring, indulgent and strangely gratifying environment. There is a further challenge to the void between high-art and the worlds of 3D animation and gaming, in the intersection between depiction and simulation. This can be partially attributed to the vernacular of advertising Robak is so proficient at utilising.

Robak’s work references the amount of time individuals remain connected to the digital world, whether it is through digital mapping applications or as a virtual avatar. It seems strange that such mesmerising landscapes do not truly exist in any physical element, representing the pinnacle of non-auratic art. They are actions rather than objects and unlike painting, sculptures, or even celluloid, they lack any form of physical support. Furthermore, by using an imagery that already exist as commercially available templates – such as Candy Crush Saga-ish sceneries or gigantic smartphone screens – he revolutionises the ready-made. For instance, in ‘Drinking Bird Seasons’ (2014), Robak appropriates the appearance a locked iPhone screen, combined with carefully programmed virtual fluids moving across it. He has described his work as having a “photoshop tutorial aesthetic” and in as much, the manipulation of images and digital objects to create fantasy is clearly present in his oeuvre. A significant example is ‘Dog Park’ (2015), which stems from an encoded algorithm generating a fantastic labyrinth of endless possibilities and configurations, where digitally drawn birds interact with complex mechanisms.

 


Tabor Robak started his career as a graphic designer, working with multinational brands such as Nike and T-Mobile. This gave him an understanding of marketing, and the use of digital technology to create images designed to sell; the visual language used by multi-nationals. The artist’s virtuosity with programs such as Photoshop, CINEMA 4D and Unity allows him to generate vivid and unique scenes often displayed across multiple high definition panels.

Robak’s work references the amount of time individuals remain connected to the digital world, whether it is through digital mapping applications or as a virtual avatar. It seems strange that such mesmerising landscapes do not truly exist in any physical element, representing the pinnacle of non-auratic art. They are actions rather than objects and unlike painting, sculptures, or even celluloid, they lack any form of physical support.


Tabor Robak
on Artuner

Part of the
exhibition