The 19th-century painter John Frederick Kensett was the perhaps surprising inspiration behind Clement Valla's work on display at Global Space, an exhibition concerned with interconnectedness in the Internet age curated by Indy native Ben Valentine. Kensett, a member of the Hudson River School, created paintings imbued with extraordinary detail and a profound sense of place, with an abiding concern for atmospheric effects and lighting.
Valla emailed a photo of Kensett's "Almy's Pond, Newport" to a Chinese painter, Zhongbo, who works for a outfit that churns out replicas of famous oil paintings. Villa asked Zhongbo to add a depiction of a scene from his "village," in fact a full-fledged, industrialized city, to his copy of Kensett's work.
Zhongbo added a skyscraper to the 19th-century scene, which he placed smack dab in the middle of the painting, but otherwise attempted, evidently, to copy Kensett's work faithfully. Valla then asked another Chinese painter to copy Zhongbo's work, then another, and so on. Subsequent renditions of the painting by the other artists became increasingly bizarre, even expressionistic. And the skies became increasingly, unnaturally, blue.
Other work continues this exploration of the idea of outsourcing, and crowdsourcing, one's artistic practice online, including Jesper Elings's video "Sharing a Beautiful Sunset." By sharing, he means showing hundreds of photos of particular sunsets, all by different photographers, from around the world in a speedy blur. The piece nonetheless suggests the actual sequence of a sunset.
Another artist in the show, Lorena Turner, took products that were made and packaged in China, dusted them for fingerprints and photographed them under black lights. The results are the stunning, and sobering, Made in China, which reveals the fingerprints of anonymous sweatshop laborers.
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