📍️ Sadie Coles
Seth Price @ Sadie Coles
Art is Not Human
In her essay, ‘Too Much World: Is the Internet Dead?’, Hito Steyerl talks about how ideas of post-production have usurped reality as our primary mode of existence. No longer can images be understood without first understanding internet economies, and the hierarchy of images we encounter on a day to day basis.
Art is Not Human thematises this disrupted, circular image economy. The Press Release at Sadie Coles describes, diligently, Price’s process: he combines composite painting, post-production techniques, three dimensional printing, and more post-production to create large scale works that mean his “gestural marks are confronted with their own computer-generated reflections”. Here, the art is not human due to its heavy processing, creating an artificial mise en abyme. Price’s paintings (?) outwit their viewers - what exactly are we looking at?
In one work, Wrekfeld, 2022 - viewers are confronted with what is undoubtedly an easy image. Smooth, familiar surfaces encourage easy looking - the eye glides over the image as they might over an instagram feed, as easily as light appears to gleam off the rendered work before us. Upon closer inspection, however, there is a tension between this smooth, quasi-photographic realism of the painting, and it’s content - weird, metallic pencil-worms which populate the piece, like maggots.
Although the press released describes the work as ‘acrylic polymer on wood’, we can’t be sure if we’re looking at wood, or a high resolution print of wood itself. In short, what initially promises ease of visual digestion in fact raises questions about a broader image economy, as viewers unpack the layers of real and rendered in the space before them.
Price’s writing about his work does little to help extract meaning. In a catalogue I find alongside the exhibition, he delights in nonsense, fracture, and particularly - spelling mistakes. His stream of consciousness - covering the decline of French fashion post the revolution, techno, and a brief discussion of the paedophilic leanings of three dimensional renderings - give a Bret Easton Ellis-esque mixture of high and low culture. Here, depth and surface coalesce, explosively.