Image Processor is a focused group exhibition of recent works by Kota Ezawa, Chris Finley, and Jordan Kantor. Working in a variety of artistic mediums, these three artists share a common interest in how images circulate in mass culture and make their way into works of art. Their paintings, sculptures, photographic light-boxes, and works on paper all ask: how are images reclaimed and “processed” though artistic inflection? Oscillating between figuration and abstraction, Ezawa, Finley, and Kantor all typically begin their artworks with appropriated images taken from pop culture or art historical sources. These serves as springboards for formal and theoretical investigations into the nature of image-making, the circulation of pictorial signs, and the construction of historical truths. More than a mutual aesthetic, these artists share tactics that stem from a critical attitude about contemporary spectacular image-culture.
Kota Ezawa’s The History of Photography Remix comprises his artistic interpretation of icons of photographic history: those well-known images reprinted in photography textbooks so many times that they arguably become as invisible as they are classic. Ezawa remakes these images through his signature cut-out simplification process in which he digitally re-produces the photographs, and then prints them on transparencies set into light-boxes. Through this process of recasting, or remixing, the most hallowed images of photographic history, Ezawa makes them visible again and comments on how both this history and artistic identity are constantly constructed and re-made. For this exhibition, Ezawa will show works from this series, several of which have never before been exhibited.
Chris Finley makes paintings and sculptures that appear to be completely non-referential abstractions. In fact, each of his works begins with an image-
typically taken from the internet-of a popular figure (both Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and super-cook Rachel Ray make appearances in this show) which is then put though a series of digital manipulations until it becomes unrecognizably divorced from its source. Among other effects, this intense image-processing calls into question the reliability of images to communicate stable meaning, as well as the phantasmic nature of cultural icons. His recent series of sculptures also begins with a pop cultural image- of a remodeled home taken from the popular television series “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”-which, though Finley’s own extreme makeovers, becomes a lithe, gestural sculpture reminiscent of the constructivist works of historical modernists like Alexandr Rodchenko and Naum Gabo.
Jordan Kantor’s paintings also often mix pop culture and art historical references as a starting point, a practice which provides an opening to consider the position of painting today. Having been scanned, cropped and manipulated, Kantor’s appropriated images are recast as paintings, which are emptied of their spectacular status by transmutation. These works engage the on-going dialogue between photography and painting and speak to the ways in which images-
both literal pictures as well as figures of art history-already occupy, or haunt, the spaces of painting. For this exhibition, Kantor will show two pairs of paintings, in both of which one image serves as a “model” for the other. In such works, the contemporary painter is repositioned, with regard to the medium’s history, as image-processor instead of protean creator.