In our fast paced world influenced greatly by the recent technological revolution, the ways in which we obtain our information and interact with one another are in flux. People used to sit down and write letters to one another, but now there is e-mail. People used to read a newspaper, but now there is televised news. People used to go to the library to read a book, now people go to a library for its internet capabilities. These are just a few examples of how new forms of media technology have changed our lives. Are we still fully human, or are these new technological aids changing the way we live life so much that we are becoming cyborgs?
With my recent paintings I have been approaching these concepts with the age old technique of genre painting. Using this historic approach I am depicting scenes of human interaction, or isolation depending on the situation. Much like the genre painters throughout history, I am depicting scenes of everyday life as we live it. I have even used historic compositions to further some of the underlying ideas within the works.
My works generally deal with narratives based on the world around me; the bars I frequent, the streets that I walk, and any other scene of social interaction that I may come across. Lately, however, I became inspired by television and its affects on people. It started with simply using the television as the sole light source for a portrait, but it grew to be much more. I began to notice how people gather around “the box” to watch sports, favorite television shows, movies… the list can go on and on. But with each situation the effect on the atmosphere is different, but the environment is always involved with the images on the screen. I broadened this topic to all forms of mass media noticing similar effects with computers, movie theaters, and even video games. The people in the paintings, for the most part, seem stale, mindless, even boring. People “zone out” when faced with moving images on the screen, almost becoming a part of whatever is happening within the television or computer.
The importance of incorporating these technologies into works of genre painting today I find to be crucial to the advancement of the subject of the genre. The impact that these forms of interaction have on society are too great to be ignored. In the year to come I plan to continue working with this theme, capturing scenes as I see them, focusing on different aspects of mass media culture and their effects on their environments through this classical technique.