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Theory: The Aesthetics of the Fake

The Aesthetics of the Fake: an exhibition, conference and on-line catalog organized by Rachel Clarke, Claudia Hart and Michael Rees


Sacramento's University Library Gallery, California State University, March 31-June 4, 2011
The Power Center, William Paterson University, Wayne, NJ, Winter 2012


The Aesthetics of the Fake is an exhibition that presents the approaches employed by artists exploring artificial xyz space, the non-referenced synthetic image or object, and the specific qualities of the virtual camera that records it. Its purpose is to position 3D computer graphics in the discursive context of contemporary art. The artists in the exhibit all use 3D software to create a range of art forms, from the still image to animation, interactive works, sculpture and installation. And all of them self-consciously place 3D within an avant-garde lexicon. Like their predecessors, video artists who adapted TV technologies for artistic use, these artists have adopted the technology employed in 3D shooter games and feature-length Hollywood animation blockbusters, but reject entertainment industry aesthetics and content, instead applying the medium to the trajectory of art history.

Their common strategy is to isolate and define a formal language native to the virtual. These formulations are then integrated into a variety of contemporary practices emerging from the discourses of media and of representation as they have impacted on photography, experimental film, and installation-based contemporary art. Their languages arise out of the painting traditions of figuration and abstraction, and artistic movements as wide ranging as Surrealism, Constructivism and Pop Art, as well as avant-garde cinema, post-Modern image making and experimental animation.

It is rare even in the new-media art context to find artists involved in contemporary practice that are deeply invested in exploring 3D computer art. The particular burden of the artists in The Aesthetics of the Fake is to break away from the constraints imposed by the domination of an extremely virulent and fast-paced military/entertainment complex, beyond the commonly adopted strategy of appropriation. The Aesthetics of the Fake proposes the potential of 3D computer art as the post-photography medium currently emerging from the new technologies and zeitgeist of the early 21st century.