Paul Kneale

Performative Empathy, 2015

Digital Print on Linen

198.1 × 139.7 cm


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Artwork
Description

Paul Kneale’s “Post-post-post-production” paintings are the result of an innovative technique involving the use of scanners. For Kneale, a computer screen and a canvas share the same properties, “everything that happens on your computer screen is already a painting, if not a fancy one”, which highlights his opinion on technology.

Scanners function as follow: a LED strip produces light, which moves under a glass plate, and reflects whatever is above the bed. Simultaneously, a sensor captures whatever is above the glass plate.

The content of the digital file, which results from Kneale’s scanning technique, is shaped by several factors he plays with. The intensity  and type of light, and the materials Kneale feeds through the machine’s printing function, such as crumpled transparencies, will all have an effect on the outcome. The artist also varies the exposure time of the scans. All these aspects express themselves differently, depending on how Kneale manipulates them.

The digital files, which are eventually printed on canvas, make up the painting – Kneale does not make alterations on the computer or the canvas itself. Although he has a certain degree of control over the process, he lets the scanner translate and transform his input into its own words. He thus acknowledges the impact of coincidence / chance on his art, as he cannot fully control the scanner’s processing. He can solely alter the input he provides. Furthermore, scanners will read what is above their glass plate differently: they each have their personal visual language. The results, in terms of colour, distortion and depth, are thus a co-production of Kneale and the scanner. Kneale views “productive misuse” as “a way to understand things”.

The colours and colour-mixtures obtained from this digital and printing process are unique and unachievable with paint. The painting “Performative Empathy” is a good example, as the harmonious flow of colours in this subtle artwork is clearly reminiscent of these processes. “This material (canvas), aside from its historical use in painting, allows an amazing depth of colour and detail from the inks used”, Kneale says. You can see that very well in the faint vertical lines. The trompe l’oeil effect achieved by Kneale’s technique is evident in “Performative Empathy”, which is also a good example of the slight blur the scanners create at times, adding to the ambiguity the viewer encounters with these innovative non-objective paintings.

About
the artist

Born in 1986 in Canada, Paul Kneale received his MFA from the Slade School of Fine Art (London) in 2011 and has been working closely with ARTUNER since early 2015. Work by Kneale have been included in the exhibition Peindre la Nuit at Centre Pompidou Metz (October 2018), Contemporary Photography Forum exhibition of the Boca Raton Museum (Florida, USA), the Moscow International Biennale for Young Art, the Rubell Family Collection and at the prestigious Thetis Gardens in the Arsenale Novissimo (Venice), in a group exhibition on view during La Biennale di Venezia 57°. He lives and works in Toronto.

Paul Kneale is interested in how the world is constantly translated into a digital language which simplifies, trivialises and depersonalises content and the people it addresses. The artist explores the way in which digital facets of our existence can be manifested and reimagined in the flesh of the physical object. The artist has been manipulating cheap scanners to generate a unique way of painting. Rather than capturing an image, the scanner creates an impression of the ambient light within the artist’s studio, bearing the abstract visual trace of the atmosphere surrounding the machine. The process is integral to his new works: the scanner paintings are built up from unique impressions and display multiple layers and striations often between transparent sheets and the colours resulting from varying light conditions in the artist’s studio.

The contrast between machines and their serial products results in what Paul Kneale defines as the “new abject”. In response to Julia Kristeva’s 1980 text ‘Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection’, the artist identifies a “new abject” for the information technology. Describing today’s inherent revulsion for brand new materials, he pinpoints a disorientation in the consciousness of time and location, caused by our immaterial inhabitation of new technologies. This sentiment is embodied in works which often address, in original and innovative ways and media, the simultaneity and layering occurring in our ever-linked virtual existences. Kneale, in an interview with i-D, defines the Internet as ‘a whole way of being in the world’. His practice aims at investigating the role of art in this new enigmatic dimension. Paul Kneale is an artist that explores the possible physical manifestations of the digital. His oeuvre reflects on the implications of algorithms and information flux. While these may seem very abstract entities, they constitute and shape our domestic daily environment. To follow Paul Kneale and receive exclusive updates, click here.


Kneale is interested in how the world is constantly translated into a digital language which simplifies, trivialises and depersonalises content and the people it addresses. The artist explores the way in which digital facets of our existence can be manifested and reimagined in the flesh of the physical object.


Paul Kneale
on Artuner

Part of the
exhibition

September 24th, 2015 until
November 13th, 2015
Curated by ARTUNER