Tabor Robak

Endo, 2019

HD Video, 4x LED Panels, Custom LED enclosure, LED video processor, BrightSign media player, various cords and hardware

200 × 50 cm

Edition size: 1

Artist proof: 2


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Artwork
Description

‘Endo’ is a site-specific work created by American artist Tabor Robak for the Deadhouse, a particularly atmospheric space within Somerset House where ARTUNER held the exhibition ‘Crossing the Borders of Photography’. Like bodies buried in a crypt, these LED totems loom, only slightly larger than life, and confront the viewer on a very relatable scale. With its companions ‘Cardio’ ‘Nervo’ and ‘Skelo’, ‘Endo’ represents a bodily system, in this case the endocrine system.

Evoking the aesthetic of the old-school screensavers, the ones used by cathode ray tube computers (CRT), the image in front of the viewer’s eyes fluctuates continuously. Originally created not to leave any ‘scars’ on the CRT screens due to leaving the same fixed image on for too long, screensavers are as obsolete as the technology they were invented to protect. In this artwork on LED, Tabor created these moving images through a special effects software, in a way that would celebrate the pixel, the grain of the machine itself – in a way, its physicality. And indeed, the viewer cannot help but to confront it.

Every five minutes, the imagery undergoes a radical shift: this signals a different hour of the day. Similar to a Tamagichi toy (another relic from the 1990s), the artwork almost communicates with us by sharing its vital signs. The viscous, bulging graphic itself appears three-dimensional. The abstract digital painting is displayed on an LED screen that mimics the size and angle of a body, or a full-length mirror, as if to reflect the body of the viewer. The reflection skews literal: ‘ENDO’ is a mirror of sorts, angled at the human body’s management of growth, sexual drive, and mood.Here, the artist aims to reflect this dichotomy and comment on the increasingly entangled relationship between technology, commerce and the body.

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.


Tabor Robak
on Artuner

Part of the
exhibition

May 22nd, 2019 until
August 31st, 2019
Curated by ARTUNER