Artist Evan Roth’s work occupies the irregular zone at the intersection of free culture with popular culture, where viral media meets art, and graffiti connects with technology. From Feb. 5-March 2, Roth’s “Intellectual Property Donor,” is on display in the Center for the Art’s Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery. Ginger Gregg Duggan and Judith Hoos Fox of c², curatorsquared, co-curated the exhibit.
The images, objects and experiences in the exhibition Intellectual Property Donor suggest a new way to exist within the current environment shaped by our participation in an increasingly cyber and global world, yet grounded in our need for materiality and personal connections. Pictured is Compilation, 2014, a single channel video.
In the video projection, “Graffiti Analysis, 2009,” Roth creates visualizations of the often unseen gestures involved in the creation of a tag, typically created in haste and out of the public eye. Each stream of “paint” calligraphically skates across the gallery’s wall leaving the overspray as evidence of the energy behind the original marks.
This open source project is available online for free, offering a platform for graffiti writers to capture and share their own tags. Here computer programmers are invited to create new applications and visualizations of the resulting data.
“Graffiti Analysis: Sculptures, 2013,” are material transmogrifications of the actual act of tagging. Time is extruded in the Z dimension and pen speed is represented by the thickness of the model at any given point. The quick, transient gesture, output in Thermoplastic, is then cast in the most permanent and monumental material, bronze. The action becomes a physical form that will outlive all other tags created by the writer.
In three silk screen prints titled “Graffiti Taxonomy: New York (2011), Paris (2011), and Detroit, (2013),” Roth depicts the stylistic diversity found in graffiti tags across the world — “alphabets” culled from the walls of major cities. The stylistic notations copied from the streets of New York, Paris and Detroit, when viewed together, share a striking similarity.
“Level Cleared,” consisting of 1540 sheets of tracing paper and black ink, is a record of every finger swipe needed to complete the popular mobile game Angry Birds. Beyond visualizing the game, the piece aims to make apparent the amount of time and repetitive gestures required to “win” the game. The resulting visualizations contrast the excitement that happens in the gaming environment with the monotony that takes place in the physical world. It also depicts in physical form the amount of time spent on such online activities.
Based in Paris, Roth received his M.F.A. from the Parsons New School for Design; and co-founded the Graffiti Research Lab in 2005, and the Free Art and Technology Lab, an arts and free culture collective, in 2007. This exhibition is the largest one-person presentation of the artist’s pioneering, multi-faceted work in the United States. The exhibit is co-sponsored by the Department of Art and Art History. (Photos by Ryan Heffernan ’16)