Simon Ingram: Radio Paintings, Gow Langsford Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand

Simon Ingram, Untitled, 2009
Oil on canvas
77 x 77 inches

April 27 – May 14, 2011

As an artist Simon Ingram is known for his collaborations with machines. Unlike most painters, Ingram takes up a position distanced from the direct act of painting and is interested in ideas of self-making painting. Through this distance Ingram opens up painting to other forces and interpretations and, as the maker of his painting machines, is able to influence and engineer these ideas.

In his last solo exhibition in Auckland, Boing Boom Tschak (2009), Ingram presented paintings made by a machine programmed with techniques of self-making derived from artificial life. In Radio Painting Ingrams attention is turned outward and upward as his new machine connects to the world around it.

The exhibition comprises of a series of new paintings made by a machine plugged into Ingram’s newly developed radio telescope. This device is built to receive radio signal that propagate in the Earth’s upper atmosphere. The particular type of radio spectrum Ingram is interested in is known as very low frequency radio or VLF. The VLF radio spectrum is used by submarines to communicate over great distances back to base. It is known that changes in the amplitude of VLF signal corresponds to activity from the sun, such as solar flares. Radio Painting relates to rendering these changes across the VLF spectrum as painting.

While the method of the paintings included in the exhibition relates to electronic art and new media, they share an interest in rich materiality that characterizes modes of abstract painting not ordinarily associated with those practices. In his studio after dark, when the signal is strongest, Artist and machine work to materialise the immaterial, visualise the invisible and dissolve boundaries between analogue and digital methods.

Radio Painting is the first part of a larger project to be exhibited at The Suburban (Chicago) and The Great Poor Farm Experiment (Little Wolf, Wisconsin) later this year.