Jessye McDowell

Assistant Professor and Exhibitions and Lectures Coordinator

Digital art

Artist Statement

Make it Real is a series of landscape-based compositions created entirely with 3-D modeling software. This body of work continues my artistic exploration of the cultural narratives surrounding technology. Complicating our Manichean tendency to view technology in terms of its potential for complete destruction or salvation, the work is neither utopian nor dystopian, occupying a space of both criticality and pleasure regarding technology and its attendant tropes. Drawing upon the history of landscape painting, in particular Albert Bierstadt and the Hudson River School, the images combine familiar landscape elements—lakes, mountains, snow—with materials and palettes that are recognizably “unnatural,” plastic, and manufactured. The rendered works have the appearance of photographs, suggesting the use of physical models or dioramas in their creation. The fact that the images have no original referent, however, reflects the increasing fluidity of the boundaries between opposing cultural categories of representation: real and fake; natural and synthetic; representational and imaginary; nostalgic and futuristic. While technological advancement continues to inspire utopian optimism, our lived realities, which are thoroughly infused with our digital existences, are often characterized by a pervasive alienation, and we tend to idealize a “natural,” more real way of life that we imagine we’ve left behind. This ambivalence gives way to a simultaneous pleasure in the excesses of today, longing for an intangible authenticity of yesterday, and hope for a future perfected by technology. These conflicting impulses inform the works in Make it Real, where slick surfaces and livid colors define spaces that hover between fantasy and horror.

Untitled (Chalet), 2015, digital print of 3-D modeled image, 32 X 32 inches

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