The digital prints on canvas in the touched/screened series originate from the scanned surfaces of touchscreen mobile devices (smartphones, tablets, etc.) Captured in each scan are the fingerprints, marks, and smudges that have accumulated upon the screen of the corresponding device. The title of each print refers to the day and time when the associated image file was saved to my computer’s hard drive, information which is also embedded as metadata in the file.
Most of the scans that I take are discarded. I select and work with images whose compositions evoke gestural abstract painting. Specifically, I am interested in drawing an analogy between the residual traces left upon the surface of the device’s screen and the gestural, painterly marks that are emblematic of action painting and abstract expressionism. Yet while the compositions that emerge from these traces bear qualities that are ostensibly painterly, and that may even appear to be expressive or “autographic,” they are actually only the by-products of circumstance. In other words, the compositions are not deliberately produced for aesthetic effect, but are incidental, originating from a moment when chance occurrence, the habitual response of the user, and the field of possible reactions delimited by the device and its programs coincide.
Little about the specific activities the user was engaged in is revealed through these traces alone, (though, conceivably, certain compulsions or idiosyncrasies engendered in the user by the device may be gleaned from them.) Instead, these traces offer an index of how the digital interface of the device captured the tiny swipes and gestures of the user's hand, as if it was ensnared in a net.
- E.J., 2013