Tabor Robak

Loop 05 – Nightlife, 2019

video projection

Dimensions Variable

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Artwork
Description

Tabor Robak created Loop 05 – Nightlife as a collaboration with luxury fashion maison Balenciaga for their “Loop Mix Series”, with music by DJ Hell. Featuring his characteristic CRT computer screensaver sleek aesthetic, the video depicts a futuristic nighttime city-scape emblazoned with the neon glow of Balenciaga Paris maison logos throughout. The camera eye titillatingly moves in a tight elliptical motion, seemingly promising to venture into the hidden secrets and delights of Robak’s nightscape, but then unrelentlessly moving back again, to its starting point – never really getting any closer. The big city lights flood over us, like an ebbing tide spurred on by the music’s crescendo, never to be satisfied. 

The aesthetic of Robak’s city is reminiscent, on the one hand, of cyberpunk neons and dark, deep skyscraper canyons, and on the other, of the soothing screensavers from 1980s-90s computers. 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. Playing with different layers of rapidly obsolescing high-tech and human emotions such as nostalgia, Tabor Robak conjures up a history painting for the XXI century, one that encapsulates the worries and hopes of Generation Y.

About
the artist

Tabor Robak (b. 1986, Portland, Oregon) lives and works in New York. He received his BFA at Pacific Northwest College of Art in 2010. His show "World on a Wire" was shown internationally in both Beijing and Seoul, and his work has also recently been shown in Amsterdam, Winterthur, and at the NGV Triennial in Melbourne.

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, the use of digital technology to create images designed to sell, and 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 video games – that are recognisable from daily 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 Robak's fluency in the vernacular of advertising.

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 sense, representing the pinnacle of non-auratic art. They are actions rather than objects and unlike paintings, sculptures, or even celluloids, they lack any form of physical embodiment. Furthermore, by using imagery that already exists 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 as such, 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, the use of digital technology to create images designed to sell, and 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

October 12th, 2019 until
October 30th, 2019
Curated by ARTUNER