Yellow Movie 3/5-6/73, 1973
Clear gloss varnish, Super Valspar No. 10, thin textured, studio white seamless paper, 114 x 106 inches
Installation view, Overwrite, Greene Naftali, New York, 2020
"Conflict and resolution had in effect shrunk the field of durations within Western art by centering upon the use of distraction: of repetitive conflict resolution and the momentary use of novelty or variation. With long durations, the audience found itself immersed in another and quite opposite system of anticipation, one captured in the tidy psychological aperçu that a watched pot never boils. This 'never' fully captures the sense in which long durations were not only 'long', but that they implemented a sense of duration that was even longer than 'long'. Duration, that is, was exposed as nonlinear, as paradoxical; as capable of overturning the psychic state of bourgeois expectation."
— Tony Conrad, “On Duration” (2004)
The age of automation and digitization has augmented cultural and industrial production. Today, a seemingly infinite number of objects and data points inform daily life. Yet, despite assistive devices that come and go, limits remain in the human capacity for interpretation and retention. Acting as mediators, the artists in this exhibition lodge their work within the life cycles of information and technology, disrupting steadfast and formidable turnover.
Tony Conrad interferes with artistic production by destabilizing its relationship to the past and future. His Yellow TVs and Yellow Movies (1973-1974) don’t heel obediently at their date of execution. Per Conrad’s design, exposure to light breaks down the chemical bonds that color his paintings, permanently altering their stored meanings. In spite of their painterly designation, they are examples of the moving image, amplifying the passage of time in their slow march toward erasure. Similarly, Jacqueline Humphries’s z..?* (2019) pronounces its position in time. Pulling from her existing body of work, Humphries employs stencils to recycle forms and textures. The completed canvas—buzzing with gridded fields of letters and ASCII symbols—resists reproduction, often appearing discolored and warped in digital images. The collaborative duo Guyton\Walker, comprised of artists Wade Guyton and Kelley Walker, concerns itself with the distorted byproducts of image circulation. For the works on view (both 2012), Guyton\Walker rolled paint cans over a flatbed scanner and printed the result onto Formica tables. These artists consider the art object in relation to the disclosure, deterioration, and mutation of information over time; they bridge preservative and iterative impulses, history and futurity, to situate the viewer more vividly in the present.
Unlike Conrad, Humphries and Guyton\Walker, Cory Arcangel’s F1 Racer Mod (aka Japanese Driving Game) (2004) appears contained, plucked cleanly from chronology. Here, the artist has modified a 1980s video game by erasing all elements of play, rendering the on-screen race futile and trance-like. Without competition, the first-person player drives forever along its colorful course. Julie Becker’s Postersize Copy Machine (1996) also suspends time in a loop, using the printer-scanner of Guyton\Walker to a different end. Clad with carpet swatches and veneer wood paneling, the sculpture sticks a pin in the social and material precarity of the late twentieth century. Like a video camera pointed at its own playback monitor, Becker models her own artistic production—staging miniature versions of her work under spotlights. Both Arcangel and Becker assemble time capsules that meditate upon the pace and price of technological and socioeconomic advancement, magnifying the mundane increments of progress in each arena.
Altogether, the works in this exhibition heighten awareness to the visual tropes surrounding technology and systems of memory—implicating themselves in various social and industrial structures, like the attention economy and planned obsolescence. Wading through a sea of information, these artists reverse familiar notions of productivity, capacity, and the accumulation of value. Articulating these positions in an array of artistic mediums, Overwrite underscores pause and present-mindedness where neither is often found.