Two years ago, Brooklyn-based artist Ken Solomon completed a series of paintings depicting Google Image search results for things like “Andy Warhol” and “Lichtenstein brush stroke.” Next, he Googled “fuck” and painted the array of (often contradictory) pictures the search engine provided. He also searched for people who shared his name on Facebook and painted their profile pages. He’s given stills of Pandora and YouTube a similar treatment, too: appropriating images that online resources have appropriated from somewhere else. Each one is painted from a screen shot, most in the exact dimensions of an iPad or iPhone, and all in watercolor on paper or acrylic on wood.
What’s the point of painting search results when they’re easily accessible online? Solomon’s reconstructed paintings of such ordinary visuals put contemporary online rituals under the microscope. In addition to being a snapshot of modern life, the paintings permanently freeze a moment of the ever-changing virtual landscape, allowing viewers to look at the familiar screenscapes from a different perspective. “The work is intended to promote pauses,” Solomon says. “In a digital world of hyper-speed, constant change, and evolution, the work slows down visual information, fossilizing the flux, fast to slow.” By hand-painting snapshots of cyber information, Solomon says, he personalizes the sterile pixels of a computer image by commemorating them in paint. “The results are the destination of a journey from function to form via transmutations of generations of reinterpretations of digital imagery,” he explains. “The natural world is appropriated to the digital world, and I bring this information back to the natural world.”
A handful of his pieces are in the current group exhibition at the Josée Bienvenu Gallery titled Yeah we friends and shit, standing out among the rest as a thoughtful meditation on a utilitarian tool.