Tony Curran combines digital data-mining processes with the traditional practice of life-drawing and painting to test the boundaries between abstract and figural drawing and painting. The resulting works sit strangely between an abstract expressionist aesthetic and a post-digital graphic language.
Almost illegible presents recent oil paintings, drawings and videos that combine the aesthetics of the human made with machine-oriented production. The artist capitalises on two distinct visual clichés, the “human touch” of gestural abstraction and the “computational” aesthetics of colourful, hard-edged forms. Combining humanist and technocratic visual languages results in a visual paradox from the ideological incompatibility between the technological - a force of military and corporate interests, and the humanists’ ideals of individual liberty.
The traditional academic practice of life drawing acts as a foil for a techno-humanist paradox. By drawing on touch-screen devices, the artist records and stores a history of drawn gestures that are then retrieved in new combinations to produce fresh compositions. Through multiple sittings with individuals, the drawings build a database of gestural information about the people under observation, like an impotent form of big-data surveillance. The gestures are then recombined into cacophonies of colour and shape, removed from their proper anatomical context. Although they’re read as signifiers of human form they become almost illegible.
Image: Dr Doris McIlwain (Ouroboric #3), 2015. Oil on linen 113.5 x 83.5cm. courtesy of the artist