A DECENTRALIZED PAINTING
IOTA is a single artwork that is to exist across vast geographical distances. One large painting divided into discrete pieces — all connected by a linear and organic shapes and color — which are distributed around the world. Each single piece a standalone work but is a part of something bigger.
To exhibit the painting (i.e. for a biennale), the network of owners send in their pieces to the location of the show. After the exhibition the pieces are returned, to be sent in again later for subsequent shows. The artwork is a diaspora, a flow of data, a murmuration moving across borders, cultures, ideologies and time. It is about networks, connections and relationships.
Each time it is shown the work will be different. Participation levels will change and pieces will be missing, with voids left to highlight those absences. (See above). The aura of the work increases as a web of narrative builds as the pieces travel across the world, change ownership, become lost, or found; the painting changed by personal or even disruptive world events.
The work will likely never be seen in its entirety. It will exist in complete form only in the imagination — an analogue virtual painting.
Each piece is uniquely folded, but is connected horizontally by white lines, vertically by organic shapes and lines, diagonally by graphite lines, and sectionally by drifts of color.
The work encompasses:
1) Borders, boundaries, connections, cooperation. The artwork is to exist across many countries at once but is site-specific, made from terroir data (local found wind, flora, topography, etc.). This crucially geo-tags the work to a specific origin of place and time (a center). One image covers multiple sheets of paper which get divided into numerous smaller pieces. Drifts of color cross multiple sheets. Drawn lines create horizontal and vertical connections across rows and columns, with organic shapes making diagonal links. Textures and striations resulting from folds connect pieces within a single sheet. (Metaphors for the complex territories [social, economic, cultural], hierarchies, and even timelines through which individuals, and groups, travel). In this work, cooperation is as much the media as is paint, as the owners of the pieces must be amenable to sending in their possession. Owners may interact with other owners via the web (#3) for fun, or look to acquire sets of pieces — an entire row; all the reds; certain numbers, and so on (#4)
Row 1, #6, sold, as framed by collector.
2) Relationships. The first wave of individual units will be distributed to people important to the artist: family, friends, mentors, and colleagues scattered around the world (US, UK, Canada, Japan, Greece, Denmark, Trinidad, South Africa, Thailand, Australia, etc.) . This establishes personal and emotional narratives* as the base layer of the various networks embedded in the work. (For the artist, this means family tree, travels, memories, personal histories and potential futures, related to considerations of free will, chance, and fate). Next waves of distribution will be done through the other means discussed below.
*One option is to keep short bios or personal anecdotes/histories on all the owners of the pieces (including institutional) even — especially — if the pieces change hands. This written component of the work could be shown in didactics or accompanying catalogue.
3) The digital era. Decentralization, the work dispersed. Distributed networks, links across countries. The internet will be used to place many of the pieces: eBay, Patreon, Fiverr, Instagram, etc. Owners will be requested to provide data: email and mailing addresses. A website/ blog will show the city/country where each work resides, with forums for discussion.
4) Commerce and value. The smallest pieces, though connected to the whole, are each to be seen as unique artworks — displayable as a painting in a home or museum — with standalone aesthetic beauty and value. (The pieces will be signed and numbered as such). All the pieces can be bought, traded, bartered for (with included contact/exhibit contract), encouraging further movement around the world and weaving more narrative into the pieces. Scarcity is embedded in the painting; there are only a finite number of pieces that make up the work, only a small number are mostly one color, only a few are folded in a particular manner — some pieces might be seen as more valuable, even though they are all made at the same time in the same manner, the same size, materials and so on. (A metaphor for perceived value of an individual or groups of people in social hierarchies as well).
5) Play — The work is dynamic; a process, a painting game-ified. As the work disperses across the world it becomes like geocacheing, or a pilgrimage, as curious viewers go to see individual pieces in different contexts (homes, corporations, museums; in Brazil, Japan, France…). For collectors it might be like stamp collecting, a treasure hunt to get certain pieces (or Risk or Monopoly, where players try to acquire territory or property). For the artist and owner, conversations, negotiation and persuasion are active parts of the work — for example to convince an individual or institution that a condition is to agree to send out to their piece(s) for exhibition. Finally, installation of the work becomes a puzzle — to arrange the works each time in the same uniform grid (which changes with missing pieces), or to recombine the works in new ways — for example, all the works framed and displayed in a sequential single line.
5) Soul — The work is also a spiritual metaphor for the soul. A single identity (one’s soul) experiences many lifetimes across race, sex, culture, religion, class (and other boundaries) over a large amount of time. The painting can be interpreted through this way: the individual pieces are each akin to a unique lifetimes, which connect in various ways to form a much vaster image.