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‘Hot Wallpapers’
Mixed-Media Installation, Antoinette Godkin Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand

André Hemer about Hot Wallpapers

“Basically, you go to the root of memory, and it’s all about interaction with found documents – look at how you acquire language. You mirror the environment around you. That’s what sampling does – it’s a process of recall that changes memory as you recall it.” —DJ Spooky

The works created in Hot Wallpapers began with a downloaded set of wallpapers taken from a popular tablet device released in 2012. Designed to be used as an official preloaded wallpaper set for a Google Nexus 7 Tablet, these default images have become widely shared and recognisable; an aesthetic shared as part of a collective memory.

Akin to its physical fore bearer, a digital wallpaper covers the pixelated walls of an electronic device. When graphic aesthetics are aligned to a certain type of brand, device, or model they inevitably follow the societal fashion of that device. At first graphically signifying the newest and hottest and then over time coming to embody the outmoded. Thus for devices which are ubiquitous and otherwise generic in appearance, alternative wallpapers can become a type of personal customization.

The images themselves are released by Google- designed by illustrators or designers with the intent of creating a visual branding for the device. They vary in their appearance, although there are some commonalities- a shared mix of simple hues, a bevy of gradient fades, and some geometric designs to give the screen an appearance of depth and optical play. Rather than being memorable because of a perceived uniqueness or originality- the images bear visual notoriety as freely shared and distributed files existing on millions of devices. The replication of image producing an aesthetic mark on the collective memory of the present. Certain images could be mistaken for bad renditions or reproductions of geometric abstraction or colour-field painting, while others are hopelessly visually tied to a sci-fi utopia.

The lifespan for a digital artefact is inherently shorter than that of any physical object. An electronic device has a longevity measured in months, not years. An image which is associated or tied to such a device will undoubtedly share a similar fate. What happens to sentimentality in this scenario? What happens when an image is lost into the digital ephemera? After all, a digital image does not and never did, exist as an object in the world. But what happens if we do translate and transform these images into objects?

By making these digital images into objects- both printed and painted, I am attempting to entrap them in another kind of viewing screen. The objects become framed akin to a wallpaper contained by the bevel of an electronic device. Some explicitly refer to the desktop picture by repeating a sampled pattern to fill the screen. Other images are interfered with in their various translations through mediums- purposefully sampling- or shifting completely from the initial source, to become works in a painting paradigm. Various smudges appear sometimes drawn, and sometimes incidental or as a visual glitch of some kind. The conceptual distinction between sampling, ‘glitching’, and drawing becomes increasingly blurred.

As with much of my recent work, Hot Wallpapers began with the idea of working with an archive of found images. Rather than being location or contextually specific, Hot Wallpapers aims at swinging and hitting a fleeting idea of the universal; the idea that a seemingly arbitrary collection of images can tell us something important about this time and place- both through the content, and the act and process of collection and transaction. I am sampling images, either wholly or through a translation to become something new- to capture or contain an unseen persuasiveness.

Hot Wallpapers is an attempt at creating a show from soon to be discarded parts, touching on the contemporary psyche of aesthetic disposability. It is an attempt at creating meaning through the process of sampling this digital visual diaspora- seeking to locate the conceptual distance between the digital glitch, sampling, and the ambiguity of translation, transformation, and transactions between digital media. In sampling these freely downloadable images I am embracing their lineage and function, as well as providing a new scenario in which they can be considered.

Mixed-Media Installation, Christchurch Art Gallery (Outer Spaces Series), Christchurch, New Zealand
Combining painting with a range of secondary outputs, André Hemer’s many-dimensioned installation for the Rolling Maul exhibition series plays with ideas of distance, deletion and dislocation. Hemer makes particular reference to Cass by Rita Angus, a well-known work from Christchurch Art Gallery’s collection, which was voted New Zealand’s Greatest Painting in a 2006 poll. Images of Cass abound throughout the real and virtual worlds, ranging from high-quality, ‘legitimate’ reproductions to cropped, blurred and otherwise corrupted versions. Sampling freely from conventional and new media sources, and adding his own interpretations to the mix, Hemer emphasises the sense of separation these endlessly multiplied facsimiles create, relating it to the physical inaccessibility of Cass itself, currently stored within the earthquake-closed Christchurch Art Gallery building.-Felicity Milburn 2012
Christchurch Art Gallery Website Link

‘New Paintings’
Melbourne Art Fair, Australia (w/Bartley & Company Art)