Painting in the digital age
Arno Beck’s works have evolved from the contemplation on contemporary digital culture whilst keeping the tradition of painting in mind. His approach of experimental printmaking and conceptual painting is an interplay between the virtual computer world and traditional, artistic techniques. The motifs are based on his interest for early low resolution computer graphics, games and interfaces. Focusing on the analog production of computer generated imagery, he transforms those digital images into the pictorial space expressing the urge of capturing digital aesthetics with painterly means.
Based on the confrontation with early graphic and imaging programs Beck has developed a formal language which he uses to structure his pictorial space. Pixel Clusters arranged in particular ways, imitate duct and materiality of different painting methods, like pen drawings or blurry spray paint. His vocabulary of painting consists of geometric shapes, pixelated lines and binary, yet painterly gestures which feature a range of visual textures.
The materialization of digital imagery and the transformation of those screen based impressions into physical haptic existence, is one of the central aspects in Beck’s Oeuvre - Surface structure plays a key role in his works. Transferred from the computer screen the color itself becomes a physically experienceable matter which materializes on the canvas and in some paintings casts a drop shadow, creating a layer that pretends to be floating over the pictorial surface. Beck integrates this thinking in layers, as cultivated by working with graphic programs, into the act of painting.
Graphical control elements like overlapping windows and mouse cursors, shift the level of depiction to a metalevel. The appearance of those elements takes the viewer a step back from the painting itself, looking at a users interface instead - A picture within a picture.
To emphasize this relation from painting to image processing, Beck often uses the grey / white checked pattern as a background in his paintings. In imaging programs this surface is the digital equivalent to a white canvas in the physical space, serving as a starting point for new works.
Off the grid
Arno Beck’s approach of printmaking has evolved from a classical painting position, which has developed into a new, conceptual perception of post-digital painting. He utilizes woodprinting as a means of producing paintings in a wider sense. The procedure of printing is not utilized for reproduction, as he does not print in editions. Therefore, all works are originals in the sense of a classic painting.
For printmaking he uses 32 different colors, which stem from the Gameboy Color game console released in 1998.
Due to the lengthy manufacturing process, the deceleration itself becomes a main aspect in times of constant information overload.
His prints combine the specific aesthetic of woodprint with digital subjectmatter - particularly the organic materiality and haptic of wood in contrast to the clean perfection of the digital.
The analog production process humanizes technology and therefore enlivens the screenworld - the error is part of the beauty.
Another artistic approach, following the same thought process and motivation, is a series of typewriter drawings. This body of work is rooted in the same search for an analog translation of digital imagery.
In this series, the drawings are achieved by typing on an old-fashioned manual typewriter. Beck types these motives line by line on Japanese paper, using different letters and symbols, that create a variety of different brightness values. On closer inspection, those works remind of binary codes, emphasizing the connection to the imagery from the digital world.
He depicts landscapes on an almost photographic level and includes elements from low resolution computer games. By combining those layers he manages to fuse two completely different display modes into a seamless unity.