About the project

cacophony

The roots of my art practice are in the ideas of cubism and Dada. I combine the concepts of observing reality from multiple angles with the insertion of chance and absurdity. Viewers of my art have a sensation of dislocation as multiple perspectives bounce around the picture plane. Nonlinear narratives form as the results of Internet image searches stitched into fragmented compositions. I want to challenge the intersection of information and imagery and question the function of authority in the New Media Age.
Contemporary political philosopher Martin Gurri describes a mysterious relationship in any civilization at any time and place between information and authority. Gurri defines this link as the dictator’s dilemma; a dictator must control and restrict communications to a minimum for security reasons. However, to make their rule legitimate and prosperous, information must flow freely. The expansion of data occurs in waves; for example, the invention of writing consolidated political power in a singular entity capable of deciphering that writing. The printing press led to printed books and pamphlets, equal access, the reformation, the American and French Revolutions, and modern science. Mass media made propaganda regimes, a consolidation of access to information, and the totalitarian politics of the 20th and 21st centuries. What interests me is the Internet and how the Internet defeated the mass media age, leading to a period of new media and the triumph of imagery over text. For the first time in our history, images are more important than words, which has significant implications for the relationship between information and authority. Gurri defines the New Media Ages as the Fifth Wave of information over humanity.

Naturally, this obsession with the Internet led my artistic process to where modern imagery comes from, Google searches. Web searches for imagery put me in touch with the most popular algorithmic images of contemporary events. Additionally, these searches can produce unexpected results; for example, a search for images of “information” can lead to a wide range of source material from hands, brains, binary code, social media icons, and clouds. The serendipitous connections of the New Media Age are fulfilling to my process and allow for creative connections to occur. Nonlinear narratives arrive from the ashes of Internet imagery and form in the modern version of the printing press, Photoshop. Photoshop is central to my process; it is digital, contemporary, and powerful. It combines a multitude of functions into one interface that allows the artist to leverage the full potential of their creativity.

Chaos is the result of my practice; images bounce around everywhere and collide into my picture planes. Observers of my work can sense spontaneous connections between various icons and symbols. The semiotics of my process is random. Just like in the New Media Age, where imagery can aimlessly spark revolutions, cancellations, and confusion, I intend to question the relationship between information and authority today. Politics to me has always been the study of power, and my primary interest is in how humanity relates to control.

About the artist

Bryan Robertson

Bryan Robertson grew up in the inner city of St. Louis, Missouri, in the Midwest region of the United States. He was fortunate to study the Russian language in primary school and had the chance to visit and stay with a family in Zhytomyr, Ukraine. This experience in post-Soviet Ukraine began his interest in researching authoritarian social structures. It was eye-opening to see significant portions of the Ukrainian population taking placebo pills to counteract the effects of Chernobyl because the government told them it would keep them safe. Additionally, Robertson was introduced to a shared sense of humanity and a love for visual language while being welcomed into a community half of a world away and visiting an art school in Zhytomyr.
Besides these experiences, his grandparents’ escape from the Soviet takeover of Czechoslovakia and Poland influenced his thinking about the world. Robertson says, “from a young age, I have been writing, painting, drawing, and experimenting with methods of communication that aim to understand the human experience mainly for myself. After going to graduate school at the University of Washington in Seattle, I began to think about communicating with a larger audience and the individual’s relationship to the whole. For me, we live in a New Media Age, a time where the image is more important than words, and that is why I am a visual artist.” Currently, Robertson is a professor of 2-D Visual Art at Yavapai College in the mountains of Northern Arizona between Phoenix and the Grand Canyon. He works with students young and old on ways to express their inner thoughts and discover hidden talents. Robertson has received several university and non-profit grants to support his research and held solo exhibitions in commercial and non-profit spaces. His recent showings include digital paintings at the CICA Museum of Contemporary Art in South Korea and the Museum of Contemporary Arts Long Island in New York.

License to Kill

2021

digital photomontage and looping GIF

Nudge

2021

digital photomontage and looping GIF

New Media

2021

digital photomontage and looping GIF

Wash. Rinse. Repeat

2021

digital photomontage and looping GIF

Analytics

2021

single channel video