Carter Johnson portrait

Carter Johnson

Studio 481

carterjohnson.net

b. 1967, Atlanta, GA USA

BA Columbia U English Lit, BA Hunter College Studio Art

Area of Concentration at Hunter: Combined Media

Projected Graduation: Spring 2018

I am interested in using various processes to tease out where the boundaries between message and media become blurred or entangled in a kind of nexus of signification, thus exploring the metaphysical and political implications of media upon a given subject matter. Through various forms of abstraction I attempt to situate the intersection of subject and meaning, preferring not to see them as binary or oppositional but as knotted and intertwined.

My process is multi-disciplinary. I employ various digital tools or computational processes to create videos, sculptural forms, performances, or some kind of hybrid. The use of algorithm such as in the works of Manfred Mohr or Sol Lewitt – whether a mathematical procedure or a generic series of steps derived to create works or to solve real or imagined problems – along with repetition and chance, allows me to explore the juncture of the rational and irrational. A number of works investigate the philosophical, political, and aesthetic concept of the “object” and “thingness.” I employ repetition to this aim, and as a device to interrogate how a multiplicity may inhere within a singularity: what constitutes an art object, and its relationship to its materials are the central questions for me here, as well as the affect of ubiquity on value. Of significance are the writings of analytic philosopher, Peter Lamarque: I am particularly interested in his text Work & Object: Explorations in the Metaphysics of Art, and his idea that works of art are philosophically separate from the materials and objects on which they rely.

Another area of interest contending with some related ontological questions is that of digital materiality and with theorists such as Christian Fuchs. If indeed there is some material to digital artifacts, on what basis does it lie is a central question here; and, moreover, what is the relationship between the profound abstraction of binary code and the concrete particularity of daily life. Locating the material within the digital elements as well as processes is essential in my practice. Among my most current projects are sq ft which takes on the legal, social, and geographical dimensions of the ownership of domestic space, and Listing, which makes use of found digital graphics taken from promotional real estate search websites, such as StreetEasy and Trulia.

Listing, while certainly concerned with the nature of the listings of apartments and houses as ubiquitous objects (in this case digitally proliferated by the internet rather than through industrial mass production), my emphasis, in part, is rather on how they are constructed as containers or knots of multiple strands of signification. The pixelated floor plans captioned with what seems an arbitrarily large dollar amounts are presented with what also seems to be a completely arbitrary scale, rotation, color, and position, and thereby unencumbered by any obvious context. It all seems to beg the question: wherein lies the social dimension in the process of determining value and meaning; issues which sq ft address directly.

Ultimately, my interrogations are political. As such, interaction with digital media of all kinds – and most pointedly with social media – is clearly not only a cultural activity. An argument could be made that it is also work (aka labor), in that it is certainly an economically productive activity; albeit an alienated one that mostly goes unnoticed, is usually unpaid, or at least one in which another entity receives payment. 

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