“Each age finds its own technique”.
– Jackson Pollock
ROOT WORDS (source: Oxford Dictionaries):
expressionism: A style of painting, music, or drama in which the artist or writer seeks to express emotional experience rather than impressions of the external world.
technology :The application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in industry.
In 1928, ruminating on the rapid pace and profound nature of change in the twentieth century, the French poet and philosopher Paul Valéry wrote: “We must expect great innovations to transform the entire technique of the arts, thereby affecting artistic invention itself and perhaps even bringing about an amazing change in our very notion of art.” This prediction so impressed the cultural critic Walter Benjamin that he used it as the epigraph of his famous 1935 essay, “The Work of Art in the Age of its Technological Reproducibility” (as it was originally titled). These writers and others were pondering the same issues that face the artists who now, nearly a century later, self-identify as Techspressionists.
Thanks to digital technologies and the Internet, works of art have become, in Valéry’s formulation, ubiquitous; as he foresaw, “We shall only have to summon them and there they will be.” This level of accessibility requires us to adopt and accept new attitudes toward creative expression. As Benjamin observed, the debate regarding the artistic validity of new media, begun with photography and cinema in the late nineteenth century, centers on the so-called aura of the singular work of art. And the aura of uniqueness remains powerful. Yet a digitally-generated artwork is not a reproduction in the conventional sense—that is, a copy of something else—though it can be, and often is, reproduced in multiples that are indistinguishable one from another.
Hand-made versus mechanical. One-off versus duplication. Such binaries ultimately resolve in light of the works of art themselves. By whatever technique it’s created, Techspressionist imagery generates its own aura, deriving its authenticity from the artist’s intention. Expression is paramount; technology is merely the delivery system. Jackson Pollock faced a similar concern. Frustrated by the focus on his materials and methods rather than the content of his paintings, he insisted, “It doesn’t make much difference how the paint is put on as long as something is being said. Technique is just a means of arriving at a statement.”
CURATORS IN CONVERSATION
Techspressionism: Curators in Conversation with Christiane Paul and Helen A. Harrison is the first of a series of Roundtable Discussions created by Techspressionist artists. This conversation is a discussion focusing of Techspressionism as it relates to art-historical movements of the past as well as to digital art at large.
Christiane Paul is Professor in the School of Media Studies at The New School, as well as Curator of Digital Art at the Whitney Museum of American Art. She is the recipient of the Thoma Foundation’s 2016 Arts Writing Award in Digital Art, and her books are A Companion to Digital Art (Blackwell-Wiley, May 2016); Digital Art (Thames and Hudson, 2003, 2008, 2015, 2023); Context Providers – Conditions of Meaning in Media Arts (Intellect, 2011; Chinese edition, 2012); and New Media in the White Cube and Beyond (UC Press, 2008). At the Whitney Museum she curated exhibitions including Programmed: Rules, Codes, and Choreographies in Art 1965 – 2018 (2018/19), Cory Arcangel: Pro Tools (2011) and Profiling (2007), and is responsible for artport, the museum’s portal to Internet art.
Helen A. Harrison, a former New York Times art critic and NPR arts commentator, is the director of the Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center in East Hampton, New York. A specialist in modern American art, she has been the curator of the Parrrish Art Museum and Guild Hall Museum and a guest curator at the Queens Museum. Her books include Hamptons Bohemia: Two Centuries of Artists and Writers on the Beach, monographs on Jackson Pollock and Larry Rivers, and three mystery novels set in the New York art world.
Bronx-born artist Colin Goldberg’s work explores the relationship between technology and personal expression. His studio practice bridges multiple disciplines, notably painting and digital media. Goldberg first used the term Techspressionism as the title for a solo exhibition in Southampton NY in 2011, and curated the first large-scale group exhibition of Techspressionist works, Techspressionism: Digital and Beyond at Southampton Arts Center (Southampton NY, 2022).
TECHSPRESSIONISM – Digital & Beyond presented innovative work in a broad range of styles, reflecting the expressive potential of electronic media. The exhibition included the works of more than 90 artists working with technology from more than 20 countries around the world including Afghanistan, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Canary Islands, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Iran, Italy, Netherlands, Peru, Puerto Rico, Russia, Taiwan, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine and the United States.