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April 2008 Visual Art Issue

Joseph Nechvatal
Featured last month, Joseph Nechvatal returns this month with an explanation of his
technique and an additional presentation of his work.
From 29 January to 23 February 2008, Galerie Jean-Luc & Takako Richard put on a
one-man-show of Joseph Nechvatal’s art titled Recent Paintings.
The gallery information is here:
Joseph Nechvatal Recent Paintings January 29-February 23, 2008
Galerie Jean-Luc & Takako Richard
3 Impasse Saint-Claude
74 rue de Turenne
75003 Paris

Tel: 33 (0)1 43 25 27 22
Fax: 33 (0)1 43 25 27 23
A few of the gallery exhibits follow.
from the Galerie Jean-Luc & Takako Richard Showing
from the Galerie Jean-Luc & Takako Richard Showing
About the Work

Joseph Nechvatal, born in Chicago in 1951, lives and works in Paris and in New York. Nechvatal’s
work, both at the technical and conceptual levels, has today become a reference in digital art.
With a PhD in art and new technologies, he teaches and the School of Visual Arts in New York.

Nechvatal has worked with electronic images and information technology since 1986. His
computer-assisted paintings turn intimate images of the naked body into pictorial units that are
then transformed by IT viruses. His work includes a blend of drawing, painting, photography,
sculpture, writing and IT language. Contamination of the tradition of painting on canvas by new
digital technology thus creates an interface between the virtual and reality, which Joseph
Nechvatal calls viractual.

It was back in 1991, while working at the Louis Pasteur workshop in Arbois, and in at the Royal
Saltworks of Arc et Senans that Nechvatal and Jean-Philippe Massonie developed a program of IT
viruses. In 2001 Joseph Nechvatal and Stéphane Sikora combined the initial IT virus project with
the principles of artificial life, in other words creating systems of synthesis that reproduce the
behavioral features of living systems. Artificial life ferments are introduced in an image. This
population of active viruses then grows, reproduces and propagates within the space of the
picture. The artist then freezes a moment that he later turns into a painting. Were the artist not
to interfere, the process of propagation would continue until the complete destruction of the
original picture.

These non-infected images are themselves the result of a series of manipulations. Images of
naked bodies and superimposed fragments of flesh are transformed and recomposed. They can
also be seen as biomorphic abstractions. The bodies are in fact derived from photographs
taken by the artist of classical Greek and Roman sculptures.

Finally, Nechvatal sends his files by internet to a robot that paints the picture in acrylic on

Following the example of the great masters’ representations of the human body, a constant
theme of Nechvatal’s work is death, or rather the process leading to death that we call life.
By injecting viruses and organizing simulations, the philosopher-artist deconstructs our illusions,
our longing for permanence and the very ideology of progress, while at the same time, and
without any nostalgia, pronounces the end of a world and of an order.

The artist shows us altered, impermanent, mutating images that are as such pictures of our world.
Yet Joseph Nechvatal is still offering us painting, together with its history and sudden breaks,
breaks that are often linked to technical and scientific advances over the centuries. This painting
still provides us with moments of silent immobility that enables us to escape the tyranny of the
world, allows us to pause for contemplation and thought.

terrOrless One cOnjugated bOdies
hermapOrnOlOgy OvOid maxism
vOluptuary drOid d