Toby Ziegler

Oracle, 2017

2 channel video installation

Dimensions Variable


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Artwork
Description

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Oracle is a two-channel video, displayed on two large LED screens, one mounted on top of the other. The top panel displays a sequence of 12 images of Matisse’s ‘La Danse’ in which the hue has been systematically modulated through the spectrum. The 12 images of the painting have been pasted into an online ‘similar image search’ and each one renders dramatically different results. As the colours of the Matisse masterpiece depicted on the upper screen shift, the screen below displays the corresponding grid of visually similar images showing a plethora of rapidly oscillating subjects ranging from close-up photos of bloody, marbled beef, to luminous green surveillance images from night-vision cameras, and everything in between. Like the layering and eroding of paint on Ziegler’s aluminum panels which makes a clear reading of the original image difficult, this sped up and constantly shifting repository obfuscates a direct understanding of the originally searched image while highlighting the transformative, instantaneous and deconstructive capacity of reverse image searching and the symbolic implications of digital cross-referencing.

Ziegler’s work demonstrates the human desire to discover meaning between strange and incongruent images and forms. As the video loops, the visual stimuli trigger a response, which demands that connections and links be made.  Ziegler lifts Yandex, the Russian counterpart of Google Image Search, to the status of ‘seer’: a form digital consciousness that finds configurations between colour and tone, moving from image to data and back again.

About
the artist

Toby Ziegler (b. 1972) is a British artist who lives and works in London. He graduated from Central St. Martins School of Art and Design in 1994.

Ziegler’s practice encompasses both painting and sculpture. His work involves the manipulation of perception: abstraction and figuration fraternise, classical compositions surrender to digital reworking. Ziegler begins with mined Internet images and coerces them into material form, fashioning an exchange between the virtual and the actual. The starting point may vary: Matisse, Constable or Dutch still-life. Once selected, however, the image is inscribed onto either canvas or aluminium panels by Ziegler’s own hand, an intricate and meticulous process that allows for the appearance of the artist’s own idiosyncrasies. Following the application of paint, the image is subject to a period of erasure, which Ziegler refers to as: evacuation. Evacuation involves the use of correction fluid or a metal grinder in order to distort and degrade; reducing the image down until Ziegler deems that what is left is, necessary.

Ziegler’s works are terrains both familiar and strange: the transformative process designed to test the limits of imitation against a Neo-Platonic system of ideals. This is what underpins the sequence of images, which loop on LED screens in many of his exhibitions. The screens recite the conversion of the originally selected source material into Ziegler’s own works, and then the permeation of that work into popular culture. The suggestion being that contemporary art and pop culture are the by-products of the same – imperfect – process of imitation.  For Ziegler, it is the duty of the artist to interpret the mechanisms behind this process, to reveal all its mimetic and degraded nuances.


Ziegler’s works are terrains both familiar and strange: the transformative process designed to test the limits of imitation against a Neo-Platonic system of ideals. This is what underpins the sequence of images, which loop on LED screens in many of his exhibitions. The screens recite the conversion of the originally selected source material into Ziegler’s own works, and then the permeation of that work into popular culture. The suggestion being that contemporary art and pop culture are the by-products of the same – imperfect – process of imitation.  For Ziegler, it is the duty of the artist to interpret the mechanisms behind this process, to reveal all its mimetic and degraded nuances.


Toby Ziegler
on Artuner

Part of the
exhibition

February 28th, 2017 until
April 15th, 2017
Curated by ARTUNER