Artists occasionally react to technology in blatantly obvious ways. They might explore privacy and surveillance by hacking gallery visitors’ mobile devices, or comment on the sexualized female form in Instagram photos by taking their own erotic selfies. Brooklyn-based artist Lala Abaddon, whose work straddles the analog and digital divide, is more interested in exploring the less obvious interconnections between beings and technology.
Abaddon's work ranges from the woven pieces Martyr Syndrome and Fractal Realities that look digital, to 35mm photographs of existing images to create pixelated effects, and 35mm macro images of paintings that can appear luminous. And in her Transfiguration project, Abaddon explores the concept of artistic ritual within the context of internet live-streaming.
The weaving practice began when Abaddon wove two of her small cut-up photographs. As she tells The Creators Project, when she saw the results it was as if her mind had exploded. Abaddon grew obsessed with weaving since it gave her a way to work within her mind's restrictions.
For her 35mm film works, Abaddon shoots photographs multiple times. This "re-photographing" of a painting or portrait from a computer screen gives the resulting photos a pixelated effect. This, along with Abaddon's creation of patterns—which are geometric and bitmap-esque in nature—all serve to make the work feel digital.
Abaddon, however, insists that there is a lot more going on in the 35mm works than just a digital vibe. Despite the fact that the works look nice online, she feels that they are best viewed in person. For her, the discovery of its true nature is pivotal to the experience of the work.
"I treat the photographic process the same as the weaving—it's a sacred ritual and I use a repetitive process on more of my final images," Abaddon says. "Sometimes it is a matter of painting, photographing, re-photographing, taking portraits, layering images or layering paint, using different types of paper when printing, like transparencies and translucent wash paper. All of the concepts of my weaving and photography are linear and seemingly obsessive."
The 35mm macro painting series features similar techniques, processes and rituals. Abaddon tries to mimic certain digital ideas when painting and when photographing a painting in 35mm macro format.
"The concept of light is one connection between that because the natural light I usually photograph paintings in effects the way the color will be processed on the film I use," she says. "It allows me to explore a wider palette, especially when re-photographing a painting from the computer screen. It's with that and other linear concepts—like using transparent surfaces to initially paint on, both as a metaphor and as a function—that I make many choices and take many paths based on intuition and all else in between."
As Abaddon says, her work is traceable back to photography. When she was a kid, her father taught her how to use a 35mm Pentax camera. So, in a sense, she has always sort of seen the world through a lens or in a box.
"I view the world that way mentally, being raised in the dawning of the digital generation, and then I have this ongoing narrative of my journey with life that I have always wanted to document," she says. "Photography opened me up to that world that I wanted to share but ultimately painting and weaving play immensely important roles. It’s only through the use of many different practices that I think my voice can be heard, be it visual, spatially, or metaphysically. Everything ties into one another and I think that is the impetus of my work."
The friction between analog and digital in Abaddon's work is intentional. She's not only interested in the relationship that analog and digital technologies and media have, but in the relationship they do not have, which she says is dominating her work more and more.
"Through using the oldest art known to (wo)man, and filtering it through my digitalized mind, I feel like I am saying that in our culture and art and hearts there is an imbalance," Abaddon explains. "And I am just trying to hold a literal mirror to that metaphor."
"I'm definitely exploring the connections between all beings and how technology has not only driven that past my own wildest dreams, but has shaken us all to the point of feeling that liminal connection so intensely," she adds. "There seems to be this shift happening in the universe that is like a tipping point—we can use what we’ve been given or created and try to enact some positive change, or bring something beautiful, or remind people why to love… or we can destroy."
Abaddon experiences life across many different realities: in the waking world, in a sleeping and dreaming world, and in a daydreaming world. These and other aspects of her personality infect the work. And like most people, she wants to share the things that interest and matter to her, which the internet allows her to do.
Abaddon puts this impulse into action with Transfiguration, a live-stream of her weaving practice, and a long-term "meditation" dedicated to the ritual of art, and the "pure and raw need to create it." Abaddon describes art as a religious experience, and art her religion. Like a religion, Transfiguration allows her to create connections, if not through human contact then at least through what she calls "a congress of the mind."
"When I weave a work it will take me countless long days, and I will weave for 10 hours at a time for weeks," Abaddon says. "In that time I really focus on the concepts of my work, I set intentions, and I try to put this energy into the work. Allowing a viewer to watch me while I weave through a live-steam, often in silence, is letting you into that ritual behind everything I hope for you to feel in my work. But it is also a commentary on how maybe we are ultimately alone, and it asks the question, 'Can we really feel, can we really empathize with someone else’s pain; and, thusly, can we somehow find compassion?'"
Abaddon is currently working on upcoming solo shows, and is also working on projects that are "more conceptual, sculptural and installation-based." "Things are growing into a larger form, it seems like I can create a more powerful experience and elevate the work, so that is what I am striving to do," she says.
Click here to see more of Lala Abaddon's work.