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Immediate Release

Andrew Straub

Feb 16 - 29, 2024
New York

Andrew Straub (b.1995, Lewes, DE) lives and works in New York City. His artistic practice has been an inquiry into the potentials and limits of documentary photography in relation to our cultural moment based upon efficiency programs, data compression and processing speed. 

In preparation for Immediate Release the artist had produced a series of text paintings that have been photographed by a professional photographer using a large format analog camera. The contact images have then been framed in black anodized metal, a material used to frame the storefront of the gallery and all the enterprises at the Chinatown Mall, under museum glass. Framed by the storefront, one painting stands in transaction. Not in the gallery itself, but prepared to move and advertise for itself. Replaced to its intended spot during closed hours, lights on of coarse.

The emergent immediate-release culture that privileges speed and flexibility shaped by ‘likes’ has formed a fascinating new sub-medium. A medium in which material based outputs, channeled through the filter of documentation, afford social advancements within the playing field of digital platforms. 

Painting is deemed as the original art form, and inhabits an authoritarian position amongst artistic mediums, in part due to its perceived longevity. Photographs and images are viewed as being disposable in comparison to precious paintings and sculptures. A printed film image can always be reproduced.

Photographing a painting eliminates scaling, reducing the work to a tiny jpeg file. The shared jpeg file then occupies the painting’s digital surface as its public facing interface. Writing intending to garnish the artwork, overtakes an open-ended interpretation of the image, leading the viewer into a connect the dots scenario. Pulling focus outwards towards a bigger picture focuses attention on the direct image in-front, allowing for a pluralistic interpretation. Popularity is determined by analytics, quantified by supposed human interactions or “likes.” 

It’s that black and white. In a new populist reality, one can literally say X number of people liked it so it must be good. New pathways are created; either quilting points or hierarchies, simultaneously existing as freeing yet confining positions. Free services lack refinement and enforce limited vocabularies by design, yet allow for the immediacy needed to facilitate peer to peer idea flow. These businesses need to make a profit, and the overly simplified images are the perfect products to sell. They don’t even have to make them themselves. They rely on the community of users to do the work for them. They develop the algorithmic light systems to capture the attention of mimicking users. Like a photograph of a painting, the viewer essentially becomes the middle-man of the operation. The consumers’ labor is mined on the platform, without consideration of any induced side effects.

While these platforms are ideal for creating scenes, there are no real life social cues or large format congregations, causing strange disconnects between peers. Users offer curated images of themselves to the community rather than genuine representations. The disconnect enforces systems of automation, often very liberating to individuals, freeing each content decision, shifting attention onto the individual gains of each interaction. Documentation of the event is given greater value than the event itself. A desire to self promote guides each interaction with the platform. Each post contributes to an ongoing resume. A new system of credentials dominates over individual identities, forming a chain of transactions in pursuit of becoming a “successful artist”, whatever that means.

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