Early Glitch & “Neo-Suprematism”

My earliest real collection of work had some pretty heavy thinking devoted to what I was calling “Neo-Suprematism” – which is a super pretentious concept, but I figured I could get away with it since I had such a ridiculous artist name. This was the theory I submitted in the gallery application to the local arts federation – take it with a grain of pop rocks.

“sgt_slaughtermelon” is an ironic avatar for a body of work that exists in an age when taking oneself seriously is the first sign of retrograde motion: the stagnancy of traditionalism. **** ********’s works of geometric abstraction combined with pixel sorted “glitch art” aesthetics is at once both an aspiration towards the highest of geometric abstraction in the spirit of the Russian avant-garde of Malevich and a willing admission of ignorance and irony. This is a collection of shapes and relationships meant to express the most basic and idealistic abstractions of Suprematism, only operating within a milieu of the mid-stage “dissolution” conceptualization of the limitations of both objective and non-objective expression, bearing in mind at once the likes of Friedrich Nietzsche (re: his critique of metaphysics in general) and the anonymous author of ‘The Cloud of Unknowing.” This is art meant to at once inspire the adoration of the Pythagorean mysticism of geometry and the declaration of all metaphysics as “human, all too human.” A body of work that appreciates the infinite worlds of chaos in place of Malevich’s empty infinity but maintains his glorification of the square of all finite human grasping of the infinite embodied in us. 

The work is self-described as Neo-Suprematism following some of the ideas of Malevich blended and recontextualized with the thought of Rosa Menkman, Michael Bettencourt, et al. The digital collages are sourced from original watercolors, crayon drawings, stains on countertops, NASA imagery – wherever interesting fodder for the algorithms can be found. The experiments are a combination of two modes of exploration: discovery and expression. The initial discovery is the source material warped through software using various methods and constants – the first time an image is sorted it is akin to looking at a new unmapped landscape. These novel arrangements are then pressed into the service of geometric abstraction; the geometry represents the objective and rational, mathematical, and the breaking and dissolution of that geometry is a metaphor for the limits of human epistemic endeavor. Malevich’s note that “planes reveal themselves” is always contradicted by the equally real limit of our ability to intuit them objectively. The role of thresholds between the rational and non-rational, pixel-selection, and chaos and order all play with the theme of the glory and failure of our attempt to understand the numinous. The titles of the pieces reflect fragmentary thoughts and references in the same way the works themselves suggest familiar abstract shapes and symbols but never quite cross over into an arrogant assertion.

What it means, in sum, is that I liked the idea of using glitches as a way to get away from the certainty that geometric compositions tacitly suggest. Non-objectivity, in my opinion at the time, should be very careful about what shapes and planes it claims to have discovered. It’s a very postmodern sentiment to doubt what modernists were up to, and I thought glitch was a neat way to dip into the doubt that showed up in Malevich’s otherwise very weirdly confident geometric expressionism. I did a lot of the earliest work using butter.pics before I had a satisfying way of doing sorts in Processing on my own computer. One of the early ideas was that really, doing a “Nearest Neighbor” re-size in Photoshop preserved the pixels, so that I could do these huge gradients and pseudo-pixel art designs at massive resolutions. I still sometimes use that technique to have sharp edges, since resizing with bicubic methods creates ugly artifacts. You’ll notice that because of this theory there are *very* few non-broken pieces of geometry in these early compositions. There are lots of samples of gemstones and minerals worked into the designs – I’ve always considered it strange that people should find crystals beautiful. The most cynical part of me imagines that beauty is a biological thing, but why should there be any biological reason we find gemstones and crystal formations pretty? It speaks to the ethereal sense we have, I think.

The very first piece from this series was when I was learning how to make glitches for a seminar, and I stumbled across a weird sort of glitch in butter.pics method. The files that it generates are called unknown.png – which I also considered some kind of a sign or omen about “the unknown” and not just an error.