Claudia Hart was educated in art and architectural history in the late seventies and early eighties at NYU and Columbia University. This training was and remains formative to her digital art practice, one that emerged in the late nineties after she first exhibited intermedia work for a dozen years in the NY downtown art scene. Hart then transferred her analog practice into the digital space. As a result, she has always bridged these two worlds.
Hart’s strategy is conceptual. She tends to make distinct bodies of work that track an art-historical research, setting herself up as both its subject and its object. Her work is profoundly reflexive and consistently so. Her approach is two pronged.
As a feminist artist, Hart speaks in the voices of patriarchs. She expands on tropes borrowed from canonical philosophers, poets, painters. In her first analog exhibitions, she impersonated Jean-Jacque Rousseau, Lord Byron and Niccolo Machiavelli. In the late nineties, she reinvented herself as a digital artist but one concerned only with the virtual simulations that she thought of as “post-photography.” Hart then continued to channel history but thinking of her animations, experimental theater, VR and AR work as simulated historical “enactments” in an artificial world. As a digital artist, she appropriated the artistic styles of Renaissance and Baroque painters, Impressionist and Modernist masters, and in her audio work, the literary voices of Lewis Carroll, Thomas Jefferson, Henry Ford and Walter Gropius. Using historical references, Hart still embraces only emerging technologies, thinking of her translations of canonical art into digital form as part of an historical process that is also its meaning. In addition, Hart inverts the rationalist voice and esthetic language of canonical male patriarchs, turning them into something playful and fantastical. She appropriates sober historical aesthetics, reinventing them as theatrical decor and liminal environments.
As an art historian, Hart analyzes and positions her own work and also the work of her peers. She traces the history of representation from the analog to the digital. She has curated many group exhibitions, written scholarly papers and developed pedagogy (in the form of curricular spine at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago) as well as publishing multiple book chapters and myriad critical writings, all about different aspects of post-photographic simulations. Hart places her own work and the work of fellow partisans of a “simulations” media-art community she also cultivated, into an emerging art history. She contextualizes its various practices within a history that begins with the invention of mathematical perspective and extends through photography, finally arriving at the present moment when 3D animation, virtual and augmented realities and the NFT Metaverse have seized the public imagination.