‘Madonna and Child’ – Renaissance Art Rebooted
Process: Recent photograph of a mother cradling her toddler in her arms modded with 8bit and vector filters in 8bit Photo Lab app for Android. I saw the original image on Facebook and set to experimenting with 8bit filters that mimic the look of retro computer games and graphics.
Rationale: In a swipe, this modification appeared that brought to mind that classic subject of the Renaissance masters: the Mother and Child…The Madonna. This modded image compels me for its still tender but totally abstracted, coldwave representation of timeless art iconography. The crude, pixellated evocation of the Madonna of yore I find moving. Sanctity is in the eye of the beholder (or coder?)
Context: I am hardly unique in loving Renaissance religious art. When young my father would often take me to the local art gallery and we’d regard their small collection of such works. Later, touring Europe repeatedly with my old band The Barracudas, I’d often find myself in small cities and towns wandering little churches. Looking at their modest collections of lesser works. And, naturally, in big cities touring major galleries.
I’ll never forget seeing – nor forgive myself for not noting down the details for – an enormous Renaissance religious painting hanging in The Prado in Madrid (possibly by El Greco) that held me spellbound for some time with its size, intensity and aspiration.
Madonna and Child: Conceptual Art Reboot
The elision – collision? – of implicit legacy and express mediocrity enacted by the app into my humble digital reboot of The Madonna convinces me more than ever that the patent innocence (deceptive though it may really be) of the machine brings with it an elusive purity and numinosity difficult to define but which can be intuitively appreciated. More than mere projection, it proves that in imagining that with artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics and so forth we are only making something that mimics what we do, we are actually also being made by them. Iin their image or, in this instance, images.
The ghost is not just in the machine. The ghost is the machine. Back in the day there was an acronym beloved of pioneer economics geeks: GIGO. “Garbage in, garbage out”, referring to flawed data leading to poor capital budgeting decisions. What my meme here suggests to me is of another order and, yes, as fanciful as it is personal:
“God In, God Out”.
The original image I worked from and on was in a way nothing special, being just another post of a mother and her child. But to me it contained a world of implicit and explicit meanings; a rich, sacred universality. In entrusting it to an unthinking Android app, I was not disappointed. The heart of the material revealed itself: an icon for a new age.
Spirituality, technology: the ingredients of the great transformation underway that will alter forever how we see and feel about ourselves each other. Showing us that our machines are not copies of us but a parallel stream of evolution. Companions as much as or more than mere computers.
Indeed, as my latest series of memes would have it, #theunbeings. Strangely, perhaps, I used my first series’ hashtag for this one, #thehumanbeings. Because this meme is somehow more human than unbeing. Working remotely with Year 7 English students and Year 12 Media students at a school in London on a meme project has produced results that reinforce my convictions about the transformative properties and power of digital technology.
Post-rationalisation plays a central role in my digital artwork: Making something and then being informed by it as to its “meaning”. Randomness, recklessness, impatience, and playfulness all have their part. Making these memes has broken me out a sense of obligation I had until very recently to be a “real” artist; someone who paints, draws, sketches.
That is being dispensed with. As Sri Maharaj Nisargadatta said near his time of dying, “All my knowledge has gone into liquidation, I am unconcerned.” With these fast and fickle creations I’ve glimpsed something tantalising: When I’m not, I am.
Jeremy Gluck primarily focuses on capturing a snapshot of human consciousness through the utilisation of digital meme.He seeks to explore the traditional hierarchy of how art is perceived. His most recent work reflects the powerful dichotomy,which exists between the narcissism of the digital age and the need for a stark commentary on the post-millennial landscape.Through the utilisation of a raw typography and a monochromatic palette, Gluck invites the audience to consume less and engage more, therefore negating the idea of art having a literal presence.