Miguel Arzabe makes work poised between the canons of conceptual art and abstract painting. For this solo show /*Reject Algorithms*/ Arzabe uses a choreography of his body, in the act of making, to explore the relevance of painting in contemporary media and the ‘screen-deep’ phenomena of our daily subjective experience. In mathematics and engineering ‘rejection sampling’ is a basic technique used to generate observations of a task-orientated object through its function. The syntax /* is computer code used for comments, not language for the computer to perform, but instead intended to give human programmers information about what the code is supposed to do, who made it, why, etc.
I documented my painting process with a digital camera. These videos were layered over a stop-motion animation of an improvised dance/performance before a large canvas suspended in front of a green screen and mirrors. The chroma key function was used to subtract video, revealing the dynamic relationship between the hand, the body, the canvas, and the screen.
I was manipulating the documentation of the paintings in the same way that I handle paint, thereby expanding my painting process to be conscious of its digital mediation. Like the physical paintings, the videos are built up over time and subtracted to reveal the trace of previous actions - ones that evince gestural "brush strokes" through improvised poses, leaps, and movements performed by the body in the arena of the canvas. The goal is to upend predetermined formulas and to question assumed hierarchies. "Finished" paintings share a space with the remnants of their creation (tape, drop cloth, etc.), physical objects are influenced by their virtual representations (and vice-versa), and a non-linear progression encourages the viewer to choose where to focus attention while rewarding multiple viewings.
/*Reject Algorithms*/ draws on the legacy of post-war action painting, where the photographic documentation of the painting performance begins to approach the visual significance of the actual painting. Arzabe extends this art-historical lineage of meta-investigation into the present, exploring painting's relevance to a contemporary moment that is dominated by digital screens, which insistently reflect back at us our own hyper-subjective representations.
Miguel Arzabe’s work was featured in Hors Pistes 2011 and 2012 at the Centre Pompidou in Paris; the Festival du Nouveau Cinéma in Montréal, Canada; Summer Drift at RM Projects in Auckland New Zealand; Wood Anniversary at Marylhurst University in Portland, Oregon; and at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. He has had numerous residencies and awards including Headlands Center for the Arts, Montalvo Art Center’s Irvine Fellowship, Vermont Studio Center, Santa Fe Art Institute and Don Blanche Residency, in Ontario. His work is held in private and public collections, nationally and internationally. Arzabe’s most recent solo show, El otoño mío es tu primavera, was at the Center for Contemporary Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, with an MS in Environmental Fluid Dynamics from Arizona State University and an MFA from UC Berkeley. He is represented by CULT/ Aimee Friberg Exhibitions.