July 31, 2013
What does it mean when an image goes viral? “Test Pattern,” a new exhibition at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art, features emerging artists—Tauba Auerbach, Matt Saunders, Walead Beshty, among them—who play with such ideas. In a day and age when images can be easily produced, published, and “liked” across countless digital platforms such as Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest, the exhibit’s title refers both to the test cards once used to calibrate color for film projectors and the way the featured artists explore obsolete modes of producing images. Whitney senior curatorial assistant Laura Phipps, who put the show together along with curatorial assistant Nicholas Robbins, explains, “Many of the artists share an interest in co-opting tools and technologies for the reproduction and transmission of information.”
Lucy Raven, for example, often repurposes archival film and photography, as she did with PR1, a screen print of a vintage Kodak test pattern. Raven presents this test image as a kind of relic, a defunct technology once seen only by projectionists.
Another highlight is the work of Mathew Cerletty, best known for his paintings and portraits incorporating decorative patterns. In his print Quilty, Cerletty mimics children’s textiles from the* Saved by the Bell* era, but renders them in extremely washed-out hues.