The appropriation of computer programming in art production is an obvious sign of the times and as undeniably linked to contemporary art practice now as industrial production has been since the 1960s. The Bay Area art world is a ripe environment for this kind of work, many artists themselves hold day jobs in tech, and the culture here is saturated in code writing, hacker ideology. SFMOMA is even currently doing sanctioned artist Twitter “hacks” of their official handle. Among the many artists who could be pointed to participating in this zeitgeist is Christopher Taggart; whose “Cuts and Splits” show at Eli Ridgway offers a spectrum of a scientifically oriented art practice.
The show’s main focus, and seeming title reference, is Taggart’s method of reassembling pixelated photograph pieces into larger photo frescos of multiple related images. The overall effect of these works is dependent on Taggart’s applied methodology, some works expose the natural patterns inherent in their source material, such a reconfigured decks of novelty cards like “(Real) Nude (Military Men)” and “Summit” or the vertigo inducing “People Looking at People.” Other work created a more patterned and illusionary effect when arranged according to gradient and hue as in “Altogether Significant Nudes (with Nimitta),” a reconfiguring of art historical nudes into a Rubik’s cubed mandala of flesh and not-flesh.
If Taggart’s mind boggling regimented recreation of digital imagery isn’t example enough of a tech-art meld, he wrote a program to have the process digitally created using bird’s eye imagery of state penitentiaries in “Colony (Scales of Justice),” which also references biological “hive” principals and patterns in his application of the sciences. A video using similar programming looped over in “100 Years Later (2013)” pays homage to one of art’s foremost visionaries, Marcel Duchamp. Taggart also ventures into kinetic realms, creating a robotic whirly gig “(Portrait of My Wife As A) Tornado,” as well as a series of pieces that look uncharacteristically messy, but operate, as everything else, upon a series of spatial and organic growth principals, reminding us that even chaos is a programmable event.
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-Contributed by Kathryn McKinney