by Alexandra Chemla and [Michelle Flagg]
Our concept began with the idea of framing an LCD screen to combine traditional, still wall-art, with the emerging genre of digital art. The use of the frame emphasizes that what is displayed on the screen is a work of art; the frame elevates the status of what is displayed to that of traditional wall art. By placing a frame around an LCD screen, the screen then becomes the canvas, a canvas much different, however, than a traditional one. The difference being, of course, that what is placed on a white, traditional canvas does not change. The canvas and the paint that is applied are permanently (most generally speaking) joined as one, as the painting; one cannot remove the painting from the canvas and relocate it elsewhere, nor can one expose the blank canvas hidden underneath the painting. When the LCD screen, however, replaces the canvas, and takes its role as the support and means of display for the work of art, it is possible to remove the image from the 'canvas' and then access that image again on the same, or new, canvas. It is also possible to re-use the canvas for more than one work of art. Thus, the LCD screen is a more ephemeral canvas, and the work a more permanent one. The screen is a transient means of display in that it can be shut off, its displayed image may change, or it can encounter technical problems and break. The permanence of the image lies in its mobility, in its ability to exist in its original format in more than one virtual realm simultaneously. Thus, its support can break or change, yet its original form can always remain unharmed, unchanged, and accessible.
What our work illustrates is the way in which digital art has changed and obscured the relationship between a work of art and its support, its canvas. What was once a binding relationship is no longer so. A digital work can have more than one support, more than one canvas; it can change size and shape, appear, disappear and reappear instantaneously without any permanent damage. Because the original context of the work is virtual, it does not exist in real space, and the LCD only allows for it to be brought into our realm of space.
Initially our work appears to follow the conventions of still, wall art---displayed, however, in a digital rather than physical context. It appears to be a digital image of a painting. In fact, it is a digitally created painting of a digital photograph. Thus, the context in which this work originally exists is not in physical but rather virtual form. Without the frame, it might instead have appeared to be nothing more than a frozen television or computer image, however the frame calls to attention the deliberateness of the still image displayed. After four minutes, giving the viewer ample time to accept that the image displayed exists in a similar static fashion to a traditional painting, the image begins to decompose. The purpose of this is to underscore the unique ephemeral quality of an image displayed on a screen; we have manipulated the image to give the illusion that the screen is in fact causing the change in the image. The screen seems to have "gone bad," much like a traditional (canvas or wooden) support might mutate or decompose over time. When the traditional support decays, however, the painting decays permanently with it. The screen has the ability to mutate the image without permanently destroying it. Within a few minutes, or by changing the screen itself, the image may again be displayed in its original form, as is emphasized the fact that the image reappears after its "decomposition."