This week at the Affordable Art Fair over 100 galleries are descending on Hampstead Heath, one of London’s oldest and largest public parks, to exhibit a broad range of contemporary art. The fair, as its name suggests, is all about celebrating art that isn’t a seven-figure investment opportunity for the 1%. Within the fair, several artists are showcasing work in which technology heavily impacts the art.
Among these tech-infused artworks are pieces made with computer code, 3D printing, lasers, video, and Mars topography. Artists Isobel Church, Vaughn Horsman, and Chuck Elliot are just a few exhibiting at Affordable Art Fair Hampstead who infuse their work with new media and technology.
In a year that has seen so many breakthroughs in Mars research, Church used NASA’s elevation data of the red planet to create 3D-printed representations. The works use elevation data from the Valles Marineris, a series of canyons along the equator of Mars, as well as from Argyre, an impact basin in the Southern Highlands. Church translated this data into a three-dimensional file for high-detail printing, before casting them in plaster of Paris and finishing with natural pigments. At the art fair, Church’s works will be mounted as an altarpiece.
“I'm interested in how an object can bring the unfathomably large or ancient into the realm of the intimate and familiar, creating tactile connections with that which is vast, distant, or ineffable,” Church tells The Creators Project. “This project condenses data collected from the Mars Orbiter into the format of the miniature hinged diptych, or travelling icon. Presented as found relics, the objects hint at a historic affinity with and veneration for these distant terrains.”
On the exact opposite end of the technological spectrum is Chuck Elliot’s work. The work he is exhibiting at the art fair is clearly centered on perhaps the most ubiquitous surface in the world—the lighted screen. Elliot’s interest in the screen goes all the way back to 1984, when a friend who worked at a software development company invited him over to see their latest acquisition, an Apple computer. After drawing a black line on a tiny glowing screen, Elliot was hooked and has spent the years since creating digital artworks.
The works Elliot is showing are abstract, colorful, and geometric. They are, as he tells The Creators Projects, made with tools that allow him to explore line, form, light, and color in new ways.
“The original idea was to work fast and loose, without a brief, and see what could be generated from scratch, from within the machine as it were,” says Elliot. “No filters or CG effects are used, ever. Everything is drawn by hand, and the interface between the maker and the machine is of primary concern.”
The Klint piece, for instance, has a fairly simple geodesic form. But Elliot overlays the drawing several times, creating small, unexpected interactions between the various versions of the drawing.
“In many respects, the day to day use of a computer as a drawing interface, is synonymous with playing live music, and recording the performance,” Elliot says. “No two performances can ever be exactly the same, and nor would you want them to be. As small decisions are made throughout the day, so they echo and amplify throughout the final work.”
Whereas Elliot uses the computer as a drawing tool, artist Vaughn Horsman makes data his medium. These “data paintings," including the pieces he is showing at the art fair, are focused on how data and technology have redefined the natural landscape.
“We see the world today as complex patterns and systems which can be measured and controlled,” Horsman tells The Creators Project. “The city is an intense concentration of human aspiration and history carved into pavements and buildings. I go looking for the mystery, beauty and romance inside huge bodies of urban data.”
In City of Parts, Horsman creates a large abstracted map of London. Working from a very old A-to-Z London map, he scanned, simplified, and vectorized the map’s details, which were far from accurate because of page creases, folds, water stains, and “sketchy notes," as Horsman calls them.
“[They] are recorded with as much value as the geographic information,” Horsman explains. “The final painting is more about the personal memory of a place rather than the reality.”
Horsman’s piece Nest is quite a different piece of data art. It is a “forest of data trees” that he carved into a piece of reclaimed oak floorboard. Horsman says this tiny house that can be seen within this data forest has many meanings, but for him it is about longing to find a home inside a world of data.
For many people, the ever-present weight of technology might suggest that culture is getting homogenized. With such vast conceptual differences between Church, Elliot, and Horsman, there are bound to be a wide variety of other technology-meets-art works at Affordable Art Fair Hampstead. As technology continues to evolve, so too shall art.
The Affordable Art Fair Hampset is being held June 16th to the 19th at Hampstead Heath in London. Visit the fair’s website for more information.