Jessica Fenlon : Artist Statement

I use computers to create art. I use a vocabulary of making unique to digital media. Animating particle systems, working with static, manipulating loops, managing glitches . . . why? These features of digital toolsets are underneath the surface of what we see on the computer every day.

I'm manipulating the elements of material that other folks use to . . . make recognizable illusions that we participate with every day. We do our banking, our socializing, our jobs using these recognizable illusions. They carry information about the world, without being that information. Yet people seem to forget that the information on the screen is not the world it represents.

What do images do?

Media - tokens passed from hand to hand. Are smartphones telepathy? When we watch video shot in Beijing, China, is a part of us there? What about footage of someone captured at their worst -- confined in prison, say, in 2011. We are meeting this person now, but now for this person is -- perhaps not imprisoned? Perhaps some other experience entirely?

Fall into high definition, perfection, escape. When do we remember this is created? When do we remember this has been cropped to tell me a story? How complete must the image of myself be on this network? Shh something important is happening on screen.

In the context of perfection demanded or expected by computers, what about the broken, the fractured image? What about the glitch, revealing the permeabiliy/fragility of digital media?

Students and faculty where Screen/ing installed were afraid that the work brokenAlphabet, displayed on campus billboards, were evidence that the campus had been hacked. The campus pulled the work from exhibition until I edited in bumpers explaining.

In a world of google-able "thinking we know" and didactic websites, ambiguity triggers . . .

Specific vocabulary of media gestures I regularly use includes --

Glitch - the recognizable failure of the technology - is a wonderful loose end, an opening by which we can begin to remember that 'this illusion is manufactured'.

Static - removing the object from the work of art to show the shifting pixels that are the media.

Looped abstracted work allows us to slowly approach dangerous cultural material ( see : The Devil's Abacus performance documentation - work considering the systematic destruction of humans in the U.S. prison system's solitary confinement practices ) without falling into re-presentation of the traumas that we would turn away from.

Particle systems remind us that digital language fundamentally manages information sets more effectively than any pen-and-paper bureaucracy can.