Software is eating the world (as the saying goes), or rather, data and algorithms are. Data from our reality are being absorbed in ever greater quantities through increasing number of cameras (both consumer and surveillance), our online activities, various sensors that can detect sound (microphones) amongst many others.
With enough data, eventually reality itself will be simulated in such an extent that we will not be able to tell the difference.
The idea of using data and computing machines to simulate our reality is the springboard for this series of artworks. After all, there is no greater medium in art that is as close to Dataism and as familiar to all of us as Photography. A photograph is essentially data of photons hitting a sensor. Photography is not just the medium for the masse, it is the medium of reality absorption and simulation (virtual reality is still mainly about the visuals). Digital photography, in particular, is even closer (than film photography) to this idea of digital simulation.
Even as digital photography increases in resolution, to simulate reality with greater fidelity, the fundamental unit of this medium is still essentially different from reality.
The fundamental unit of digital photography is the pixel. The Square. Neatly arranged squares, in fact. There are no points in this digital medium, there are only squares. The more squares we have, the closer a simulation to reality we get. But in the end, a simulation is still not the genuine article.
If we peer closely enough at data, the underlying structure will reveal itself as a string of bits. Similarly, for digital photography and virtual reality, pixels will eventually reveal themselves if we dive deep enough. It is worth bearing in mind that in our world, pixels are not even a thing. No one can touch, smell or taste a pixel. Even seeing a pixel – is not even real. We are merely seeing a representation of a pixel on our screens.
I wondered how an entity in the digital world will react to its understanding of digital reality. How can I make art which is honest to the digital framework upon which it is based?
Rather than trying to hide pixels for increased fidelity to our realism, I decided to make the Pixel an inherent part of my artwork. Just as photographic images have Bokeh, in this series I reduce structure by employing the usage of ever larger pixels in place of bokeh. The result is intriguing to me; somewhat like photographs, sometimes like paintings, but at the same time totally upfront about its digital origins.
Looking around my urban environment, I realized that Singapore’s public housing is a perfect subject for this art form. The regular, rectangular HDB blocks flow seamlessly into pixels and beyond. These housing pixel art fascinate my aesthetic sense, but also instils in me a degree of discomfort. In the grand scheme of urban living, are we reducible to mere digits, each equally exchangeable for another?
If you are looking for prints, rest assured I am working on making some for this series.
You can contact me here.