In South Florida no issue remains more on the minds of coastal-dwelling residents than climate change and its most pernicious side effect, sea-level rise. So when New York artists David Kennedy Cutler, Michael DeLucia, and David Scanavino teamed up for an exhibit titled “Under Water,” the environmental implications could not be more prescient to locals. Yet, the deeper meaning of this room-scale installation lies beyond the ostensible links between its title and host city. For their first collaboration, the artists have combined their individual practices to gestate a piece that directly addresses questions of representation in the digital era.
Making use of CNC-routed forms and computer-generated textures the piece consists of a sun—carved out of a giant tire by DeLucia—that emerges from a wave-like plywood construction. Scanavino then created blue tiles to elicit those same waves, as a motif of Cutler’s face takes place of a viewer, gawking at the miasmatic scene. The artists made use of a CAD workspace where images and textures can be copied and re-copied ad infinitum to create these haphazard landscapes. Their process harkens backs to Austrian philosopher Peter Weibel’s theory of the post-media condition, where by computers are considered “the universal machine” for their mimetic potential. In a world where technological advancements make representation—and re-representation via copy-paste—so easy even a layman can partake, the unique representative power of art is diluted beyond recognition.
The cycle of meaningless imagistic repetitiveness links the deep structures of the work to its more apparent subject matter. In the artists’ view the modern world is submerged in a deluge of “cheap images,” translating into architectural forms that have drastically altered psychological, as well as, physical landscapes. It’s this flood of the banal that puts us all, not just coastal-dwelling South Floridans, at risk of drowning in its wake.