Artists’ Reception: Friday, June 18, 5:30 – 7:30
SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO — Eight Modern is pleased to announce its upcoming exhibition with Jason
Salavon. This will be the artist’s first show at Eight Modern.
One of the leading practitioners of computer-based art, Salavon uses software of his own design to
capture and transfigure data and images drawn from popular culture, art history and contemporary lived
experience. The resulting videos and photographic prints often obscure the distinctiveness of their
sources while revealing the visual architecture and conventions that unite them.
“I’m just performing a pretty heartless mathematical operation on a series of data, where I set up a rule
system,” Salavon explains. “But it has a relationship with [early abstractionists] who were taking the
reality of a situation and bringing something into it that made it bigger than the individual moment.”
Spigot (Babbling Self-Portrait) is an abstract self-revealing digital portrait based on the artist’s 11,000 (and
counting) Google searches over the past two years. Feeding live from the internet, Spigot randomly
selects and re-runs previous searches in real time. One video stream displays the text and dates of the
original queries, transformed by an algorithm into a grid of colored boxes. The other video projection
pushes even further into abstraction, transmuting the raw data into a pattern of pulsating, rainbow-hued
concentric squares. A bevy of robotic voices reads aloud the various search terms represented, providing
a pervasive but indecipherable audio counterpart to the visual diptych.
In Still Life (Vanitas), Salavon has used production-level 3D animation to create a photo-realistic, yet
completely synthetic, tableau of a mammal skull and candlestick in the style of 17th century Dutch
painting. Over the course of four hours, these objects are constantly, but imperceptibly, changing in
form, position, and material. In the artist’s words, “the infra-perception pacing aims to explore
evolutionary phenomena through a lens of historical painting.”
Salavon’s photographic prints also draw upon his interest in art history. Baroque Painting and
Impressionist Painting isolate and organize the color palettes from the 100 paintings by Rubens and
Monet. Portrait (van Dyck) and Portrait (Velazquez) digitally average 80 portraits by these old masters.
The impressionistic forms and painterly effect of these works are an intriguing counterpoint to the
technical precision of Salavon’s process.
“The information in his statistical works has been reframed as art, much as Warhol and Lichtenstein
repurposed prevalent popular culture forms of the 1960s,” notes Butler University art historian Elizabeth
K. Mix. “By inserting a perceptual optical phenomenon in place of traditional presentation of information,
Salavon creates a visual experience that preferences the aesthetic over the intellectual. Yet, the work
remains reflective and dependent on the original concept.”
Born in Indiana in 1970, raised in Fort Worth and now residing in Chicago, Salavon earned his B.A. from
the University of Texas and his M.F.A. from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Salavon taught at
the Art Institute and worked in the video game industry for many years as an artist and programmer.
Currently, he is an assistant professor of visual arts at the University of Chicago, where he is also the only
member of the humanities faculty with a dual appointment in the Computation Institute.
Salavon has been written about in publications such as Artforum, Art in America, The New York Times,
The Wall Street Journal, Wired and Contemporary. His work has been shown at The Art Institute of
Chicago, The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Los
Angeles County Museum of Art, the Columbus Museum of Art, The Frye Museum in Seattle, the Seoul
Museum of Art, the Seattle Art Museum, the International Center of Photography and the National Portrait
Gallery in Washington, D.C. Many of these institutions have also acquired Salavon’s work for their
collections. In 2007, the National Portrait Gallery purchased Salavon’s video triptych The Late Night
Triad, making it the first electronic artwork in the museum’s permanent collection.