Sunday, November 30, 2014


Digital-Distraction, 2014
Oil enamel on aluminum
70.5” x 46.5” re-post of my article

Every couple of years, Barry Whistler Gallery features the works by John Pomara. Last show was titled off-Key2 where he had some pieces that used clearer references to recognizable images. This time, Pomara returned to his more abstract images that reference glitches in information output.

I see Pomara’s paintings following the Jean Baudrillard’s precession of simulacra. He starts with an image he copies/references, masks it, removes from its reality, and then leaves it as a hyperreal object. Stripped of its former signs and meaning, Pomara leaves us with the power struggle of digital and analog. Analog has fuzzy edges like his spray can paint marks and digital uses hard edges and crisp lines. Advertisers have sold digital as superior in quality product, but Pomara’s art pokes holes in these lies. He breaks his paintings into sections like a glitched downloaded photograph. Hard-edge painted lines stream down the painting like lighting. In some of the work from this new series, Pomara introduces the analog which competes for attention. These spayed on analog elements stream down, reflecting the action of the digital elements. Ultimately digital fails because it starts as analog and ends up as a product in analog. No amount of process simulation of the digital element will end up purely digital, unless left in the computer memory. His painted product inherently are analog, though it simulates the digital look.

Several AbEx painters of the 1940’s and 50’s celebrated their violent gestures of mark making on the canvas. These artists were attempting to destroy what came before and supplant it with new forms and language in art. Pomara’s glitch art represents acts of violence on information. His paintings are purposefully destroyed images that are then reconstructed as paintings. As a professor at the University of Texas at Dallas, he has seen and helped guide several students attempting similar aims of reprocessing information through deconstruction. As information ever increases at such an incomprehensible magnitude, glitch artists celebrate the failure of information to output correctly.

To paraphrase Baudrillard from Simulacra and Simulation, we have more information and less meaning. Pomara’s work appears to be slicing some of that information and repacking it as paintings. Paintings traditionally held higher meaning or significance over than ordinary images, but we are increasingly being inundated with so many painters creating their own information that even paintings are losing meaningful impact. Fortunately, Pomara’s paintings in this show titled Digital Distraction manage to draw more meaning and produce less noise. John Pomara’s show Digital Distraction will come down at Barry Whistler Gallery on November 29th.  for more images.

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