Justin Wood



Towards A World Without Art Fairs (2016)

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are fundamentally changing the art world and they don’t even know it yet.

So we are that little figure. Standing on the doorstep of Artificial Super Intelligence and God-like reality altering technology.  Many of today’s most prominent technologists, like Nick Bostrom and Bill Gates, are warning us to slow down on the development of AI to ensure that once we create this intelligence that it keeps the best interests of humanity in mind and doesn’t just wipe us out.  Many think that it is our greatest threat to extinction in this century.  Some are predicting that once we reach a machine with the intelligence of a slow human, that it will begin to learn and advance very rapidly.  The more it learns the faster it learns more stuff.  So it might be only a few hours from Forest Gump to something with a 12,000 IQ.  We don’t really know what will happen.  And we have no idea what kinds of things that intelligence would be capable of.

Today, with nanotechnology we are able to use artificial organisms to alter the structure of molecules.  Not long from now they will be able to manipulate individual atoms.  Theoretically, a Super Intelligence in charge of an endless supply of nano-bots would be able to totally alter reality.  It would be able to turn anything into anything else and solve any human problem. Disease, Hunger, Climate Change – Avocados getting brown too quick.  ED. You name it.  Fucking dope ass Genie in our back pocket.

There are people saying that children born today might not have to die.  That mankind stands 30-40 years away from unlocking technological transcendence.  That either through nano-bots guided by the Super Intelligence or by transferring consciousness into the cloud, we can live forever.  Post-Humans in a simulated world.

Or the nano-bots will self replicate and turn the earth into a grey goo.

And there are still people making vertical stripe paintings.

Virtual Reality is finally here.  The next big thing for over 25 years has finally come of age and the art world will never be the same.  It goes way beyond an Oculus in an easy chair in a gallery installation.  Virtual Reality art will be the first widely consumed digital art.  Where people don’t buy video art, net art or gifs, they will buy Virtual Reality pieces.  But instead of small high-priced editions to wealthy collectors, they will be sold to millions of people all over the world for a few bucks or given away.  The VR revolution is already in your pocket.  2017 smartphones will ship with proprietary headsets and everyone will have had some kind of experience with VR.  New phones are being designed for the purpose of VR. They are being optimized to use as a viewer and to also act as a content creation device.  This is all happening now and very rapidly.

The kinds of experiences we can now create and will be able to create later with Augmented Reality will dwarf the entire history of art in terms of fucking absolutely everything.  And people will be able to have them on demand, in full intended quality, at home.  We are 10 years away from wearing AR glasses using a digital light field display that will overlay objects on the real world that are 100% indistinguishable from the real world.  We will all own the Mona Lisa, and not just because we understand it, but because we will have full real life quality AR copies on our wall, in whatever scale we want it to be.  And they say Millenials don’t buy art now.  Wait until we won’t have to. Spotified art world.  Dinosaurs will die.  Finally.

The New Space (2012)

What we are really talking about is a new spatial dimension in contemporary art. The physical world is no longer sacred. Artists now have access to trans-dimensional techniques and technologies, and we know how to use them. We are acting between the physical and digital and changing the perception of both realms.

I see three major elements coming together.

1. We have a generation of artists coming to age that have matured along with the evolution and exponential explosion of consumer digital technology. While we were exposed to computers and video gaming early on in our lives, we still have attachments to the last vestiges of the pre-omnipotent cloud society. From the rotary phone, to touch tone, to cordless, to a car phone, to a pager, to a cell phone, to a smartphone. From buying records, to tapes, to CD’s, to mp3’s, to spotify. We have grown up with and carefully observed this rapid expansion but are lucky enough to retain a collection of the last human memories before the internet. The explosion of the internet is a pivotal point in human history. A new year zero. It can’t be overestimated. And we lived the transition. So while we may be digital natives, more or less, we still came of age before the internet.

2. Affordability. Technology is disposable. Artists can afford to experiment with advanced technology and the possibilities expand with each breakthrough and each software update. We get better technology faster and cheaper than ever before. New happens every day.

3. Accessibility. We can use this shit. The software developers are driving new trends in contemporary aesthetics by tackling huge programming challenges and then delivering these tools in an accessible format that artists can utilize with intuition and ease. They have created an environment where the average computer user has the basic skills to utilize incredible technology. We get better stuff, faster, cheaper, and more easy to use than ever before.

This is just the beginning. We are witnessing the very primitive state of the next epoch in art history. It is our duty, as artists who lived the transition, to bring the authenticity that exists in a tangible object into the art of the purely digital. In order for people to fully embrace the next generation of art, it must first overlap and coexist with the art that we are used to, for lack of a better phrasing.

The aesthetics of the now and the technology of the near tomorrow.

The aesthetic of the screen: People look at screens all day long. They sit at a computer all day, they are on their smartphone constantly, at home they stare at an lcd tv and when they go out they are staring a digital projection at a movie theater. We are sucked into screens. Increasingly bus ads, billboards and fast food menus are digital screens. At concerts, almost every act now has screen-based stage production. We get most of our information through the medium of screens. The aesthetic of the screen is important to contemporary society. The art of now not only channels the high contrast, high vibrancy grid-based images of the screen, it uses screens themselves as the raw material for artwork *.

3d printing has entered the artworld in a big way. Instead of carving stone, artists are creating virtual objects and having them rendered into existence via 3d printers. This will only increase as this printing technology becomes cheaper and 3d rendering applications easier to use.

Projection mapping is a huge part of what is happening right now. The techniques of mapping are getting more accessible by the moment. Via a digital light projection, we are able to render the physical meaningless. The physicality of the object is called into question asking the viewer if it is light or the object that is truly present. You see this through countless examples of architectural mapping and through stage production such as Iman Tobin’s ISAM.

Soon artists will have access and dominance over the Holo-2Pac type technology. We will enter an era where physical sculpture, video projections and holograms co-exist to create truly trans-dimensional experiences. We are moving rapidly towards the full consciousness simulation. We will drop algorithms like acid.

Humans must first experience the dirty interface between the physical and digital before we completely detach from the physical world. The 4D Spiderman ride at Universal Islands of Adventure is possibly the finest example of the interface between the digital and physical as I have experienced in terms of a total mind fuck. The ride uses car motion, 3d projections, heat, wind, water, physical sets and physical animatronics to put the rider into an insane state of reality. This is the physical and digital interface gone gonzo. This kind of technology will soon be in the hands of contemporary artists and the kinds of experiences we will be able to create will be unlike anything that humanity has ever seen. Not a new way to look at old things but a complete detachment from the laws of the physical world. Metaphysics rendered experiential.

We are the last artists from the era started by cave painting and we are the first artists of the era of total digital immersion reality. It is our duty to create work that ultimately bridges the gap and exposes the overlap between the caves and the virtual, drawing each into each other in a way that feels authentic to prior generations while remaining relevant to current and future generations.

An Statement on Process (2011)

I want my work to challenge the viewer’s perception of what is real.  I want them to question where the real world ends and the digital world begins.  I am applying the techniques of projection mapping and augmented reality to create interactive 4 dimensional paintings that merge traditional art practices with emerging technologies.  I start by using the materials of inkjet print production to create collage material.  These works start with an emphasized ambiguity of the hand.  I want the viewer to question how the images are created; whether they are digital, printed, or painted.  I want to open up their thinking by presenting them with an image who’s origin isn’t immediately recognizable.  Instead of the ink being applied to the paper through a printer directed by a computer, it is applied by hand, and the resulting image looks like it was created by something between a person and a computer.  Not quite digital in nature and not totally physical.

When I have fully composed the piece, I take a photograph of it.  I then utilize various software to manipulate that image in real time and project it on top of the original piece.  The projected image vibrates against the physical image creating a 3d effect that I refer to as hyper-presence.  You see the painting and its reproduction on top of each other at the same time; the digital and physical merged.  The resulting images enter a space previously unavailable in traditional painting.  The projection creates the perception of a 3d space within the painting and also adds the dimension of time.  It is a way to bring painting into the realm of new media without sacrificing the formal supremacy of a live object.  Instead of sacrificing the physical object for the limitless possibilities of digital technology, I am merging both so that each is enhanced by the other.

Inkjet Bombs – Catalog Essay by John Austin (2010)

Justin Wood sets up the contrasts in his techno gestural schema where color, texture and scale deliberately interfere to create a visual resistance to the play of infinite depth seen in the artist’s painterly passages. In his Inkjet Bombs installation, the artist creates a “dissociation sensibility” with the ironic lack of relation between one feeling tone and another tone within ink marks. This evokes a pictorial illusion of deep space, which is undercut by the artist’s application of collage and slashes of color. The result is a heightened drama of the pure “factness” of his paint materials that seem to have their own proud volition as they assert the flatness of the picture plane and support surface as surface itself.

What we see therefore is not exactly what we get. We feel contested territory in Wood’s work. Optical roller-coaster effects are held in careful balance through the artist’s sheer craftsmanship and, importantly, through his judicious cropping and editing. The limits of the artist’s work are cadenced with exactitude and nuance allowing the spectator to enter the picture plane through multiple viewpoints. Wood’s work reminds us that the poetry in good abstract painting is in its infinite potential to revitalize its dialog with the viewer, to resist immediate comprehensibility through formal inventiveness.

The inventiveness of transcendence that plays itself out so readily in Wood’s art is particularized through the ambiguities of scale. Scale plays an important role in apprehending the given object and its gestural components in its given context of origin. Wood’s washes, splashes and spaces create a system of signification through its obstinate conflating of the near and the far, the close-up and the far away, the miniature and the gigantic. This is evident within each painting and within the installation combining large 4’x8′ ink on polypropylene paintings, medium 24″x24″ works and video projection.

As a result, it becomes hard to pin down definitively whether the eye is to place itself at a remove from the painterly action, so as to give it more narrative play, or if we are immersed in action which occurs at a micro logical, hence magnified, level. In the latter case, the piecemeal and personalized reading permits a greater sensation of mastery and temporality. Analogies between us and our own status within a larger historical or social context will necessarily accrue as residual reading of this temporal matrix. This compelling juxtapositions sensed as the work’s clearly organized frenzy demonstrates the painter’s exceedingly suave commitment to the essence of art, which Irving Sandler has defined as “the… way of heightening safety feeling… through the modification and control of perception.”

Exploring non-representational Wood’s paintings re-vitalize the world in one sense by referencing its materiality. On the other hand, the artist makes the world more insecure through his churning abstractionism, and allows timelessness and presentness to intrude on notions of recording, mimetically, the life-world. Instead, fleeting perceptions and sensations within the artist’s sensorium are tracked are tracked and recorded through gesture and color, and through his uninhibited blotches and slashing. The immediate, the concrete and the irreducible of modern life is what Justin Wood has chosen to bring to light in his work. His coloristically saturated paintings are the surrogate psychic spaces that resonate with our own value and emotion-laden perceptions of a world both atomized and united in a frenzy of space, speed and time.