“There is a central character in these paintings, and it's Painting or Language itself. It's as if there were a being which put on many outfits and spoke in many voices in order to achieve it's objective: communication. The story is 'the history of painting'.” Joshua Miller
Ten large canvas will lead the spectator on a path that, exploring the phenomenology of the visual language, assumes the form of an imagery atlas that will tell the history of painting . Drawing inspiration from popular culture, Miller paints simple and everyday objects with an unusual and original approach. The artist experiments with old techniques and juxtaposes varied pictorial styles to obtain an emotional and expressive structure which exposes the entire range of moods and personalities inherent to painting.
Following a grid scheme, the subject is repeated on the canvas according to different points of view on a white or raw background that places the immediate focus on the principal elements of what is represented.
The sources of inspiration and reference in Miller’s paintings are numerous: from the thesaurus to calligraphy exercises, from his archive to information graphics and digital technology. Miller explores this repertoire letting himself be taken by moods such as nostalgia, humor, neurosis, banality and finally the obsessive pursuit of innovation the characterizes the contemporary human being.
Absolute leading characters, these subject-objects transform themselves into autonomous speakers in a straight dialogue with the viewer that, while on the path of the exhibition, is asked to activate their own optical unconscious and to translate each work individually. As held by Jean Baudrillard, French sociologist and philosopher, on his book The System Of Objects, we find ourselves in an age in which the object becomes “performative material” and a simple “information network”.
The art historian and critic Aby Warburg, another important reference for the Miller practice, idealized a memory atlas, the Mnemosyne, in which he collected more than 60 boards on which he pinned images and photographic reproductions of distant times. Miller developes his own painting atlas, that becomes both a communication vehicle and also a transmission of knowledge, memory, study, aimed at revealing new associations and forms of significance in the thought of Western culture.
Focused on the control of movement as a way of disciplining living bodies, the exhibition presents three works based on three modern technologies designed to create barriers, overcome existing barriers, and surveil movement.
The razor wire sculptures represent both the ingenuity and cruelty of the modern age. Considered a brutal invention, razor wire has directly impacted the way lands have been divided and bodies controlled. Originally created to restrict the movement of cattle, razor wire ended up being used to restrict humans, from the western expansion of America to battlefields during World War I to detention camps across the world. Concertina and barbed wire are now ubiquitous in border controls worldwide. For this show, Ni has created a series of weavings by using two kinds of wires and various textiles, reinterpreting the common scene of clothes trapped and tangled on razor wires at borders.
The breaching charges are inspired by a fictional tactical breaching explosive mat used in Rainbow Six Siege, an online shooter game that centers around raids by special forces. The game is based on real-life governmental anti-terrorism unit operations. Players are divided into a defense team that reinforces walls and sets up barricades and traps to hinder attackers, and an attack team that raids buildings by breaking down walls and disabling traps in their attempts to eliminate the opponent.
Players use the “breaching charge” tool to blast through spaces. In Ni’s show, these tools become quilts that narrate movement-based violence, specifically, authorities’abilities to “move through walls” in dense urban environments to control people.
Finally, broken and fragmented flat screen TVs are hung on the walls, each playing videos recorded by sports or dashboard cameras spinning during accidents, creating a kaleidoscopic effect. The compilations comprise clips sourced from YouTube as well as footage filmed by the artist. This installation is not only a reference to the rise of body-worn cameras and self-surveillance technologies, but also an accidental futurist painting in motion that celebrates both speed and accidents.
Courtesy of T293, Rome
Photos by Roberto Apa