Excerpt from Digital Divide, a talk by Claudia Stamatelatos
Kunstverein Speyer - 2019
About 26 years ago I bought my first PC to write my master´s thesis on. It was an Apple laptop, a gray, heavy device with a black and white screen.
The computers used by the British artist Nick Fudge for his digitally inspired works date from about the same period.
Using this almost archaeological software and hardware, Fudge creates works that reflect on the role of art and the artist both in the past and in the digital age.
He is particularly interested in the principle of delay.
"Interest" is actually too weak an expression for the radicality with which Fudge practiced this principle.
The night before his final exam at Goldsmiths College in London at the end of the 1980s, the budding artist destroyed all his works and disappeared to America.
Over the next 25 years, he traveled the country, graduated from the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia with a Master's degree, produced digital art (with the help of a graphics tablet that was completely new at the time), and stayed away from the art market.
In 2015, Nick Fudge appears again. Initially settled in southern England, Fudge decided to show his works to the public from then on.
Among the works exhibited in Speyer are both oil paintings and ink-jet prints of computer-generated graphics. One work combines both techniques.
The thematic spectrum ranges from Picasso motifs and cubist computer graphics to landscapes that take up the clichés of the American West: Wide horizons, large cars, empty roads.
Titles and dates are important components of the artworks and often refer to the creation process of the pictures:
The title "Escape, Undo, Redo, 2013-2019", for example, pretends the involvement of a software program in the creation of the (hand-painted) picture. But it also illustrates the general variability, the transience of every work of art:
For with just a further click on the "Undo" or "Redo" function, the identity of the picture would be completely different and could be changed any number of times.
And also the indication of the unusually long development period of six years is a hint that the artist gives precedence to the processual over the static end product.
Fudge thus questions the "original" as such.
And also the classical function of the artwork, to defeat transience and to function as a unique and unrepeatable cult object, becomes doubtful.
The computer seems to be the ideal instrument for concealing the authorship of a work and largely depriving it of its physical existence.Thus, images become digitally stored "ideas" that can appear and materialize in one form or another. They become "transparent paintings," as Fudge once put it.
In spite of this attitude, the artist reserves the right to work with colours and brush on the canvas and to produce unique analog works.- Often these works show motifs, which look as if an existing, well-known painting (which we usually only know as a reproduction) had been manipulated with the help of a computer program and then repainted.
This threefold transformation fits quite well with the term "post-Internet" defined by the cultural scientist An Paenhuysen:
She writes: "...the tools of the web (are used) to create an object that in the end exists in the real world."
Claudia Stamatelatos is an art historian and journalist