Techspressionism in the Computer Virus Project II by Joseph Nechvatal
My Viral Venture animation, exhibited in Techspressionism: Digital & Beyond at the Southampton Arts Center in 2022, is grounded in a theoretical context I developed in 1999 called viractuality (or viractualism). Broadly speaking, viractuality is a theory that strives to see, understand, and create expressive interfaces between the virtual and the actual.
I offer as example of Techspressionism Viral Venture – a conflation of the painterly glazing tradition with genetic programming where a very intense analog-digital difference is confronted and addressed in both directions. For anyone unfamiliar with genetic programming, it is a technique for writing code in a computer program based on artificial intelligence that uses an algorithm-based method that takes its programming cues from biology. In my case, from the biology of the virus. Indeed, bio-tech genetic programming as applied to the tradition of painting is so important to the ideas of viractuality that it may be said to be emblematic of it. This is because it represents the seminal function of viractuality: that which occurs between the real-time and the captured/archived.
In the context of Techspressionism, the basis of the viractual conception is that virtual producing computer technology has become a noteworthy means for making and understanding contemporary art. And that this virtual production brings artists to a place of paradox where one finds increasingly the emerging of the computed (the virtual) with the un-computed corporeal (the actual). This fusion motif – which tends to contradict some central techno clichés of our time – is what I call the viractual. It is a poetic welding/fusion/paradox that accounts for much of the potency and transportative agency of my viractual art theory and the artwork it produces.
View this artist’s work included in exhibition here.