Futuristic and abstract, Cecilia Salama’s artwork entices the depths of us that are intrigued and inspired by the surreal concepts and spectrums our imaginations can conjure but cannot construct. Salama, a Brown University graduate, brings these colours and forms that inhabit our imaginations into the physical, which is even more impressive considering the foundations of her ideas.
She elaborates, “We live in a fluid space that vacillates between the physical and the virtual, the real and the digital. The Internet allows for immediate accessibility of information and images, penetrating our way of seeing and thinking. I reflect on the space between the real and the digital in everyday life by translating the appropriation of commercial aesthetics and digital processing into the three-dimensional.”
Her work deals with themes of analog versus digital through texture and the creation of 3D artistic pieces, as well as visual video feeds. Salama translates the theme of digitisation into her work through her chosen mediums and materials, often representing the characteristics associated with technology and digitisation through the creation process but also during exhibition.
“When I choose materials I reflect a lot on digital processing techniques such as dropshadow, the liquefy tool, and multiply. I’ve started to hang my paintings with chains to give them that small amount of shadow against the wall, I feel like this gives them more of a significant weight in the three-dimensional world. I also like to think about zip files and both the encapsulation and accessibility of information on the Internet. I have been doing a lot more multiples such as my latex casted pieces because I like the idea of translating the “copy and paste” command into 3D. The tiny nodules on some of the pieces portray a sort of “binary code”, she explains.
Salama’s work suggests internet culture is just culture and with it comes the immediate accessibility of information and images that penetrate and change the way we see and think. As well as changing the way we view art. Salama notes that our everyday existence has come to be mediated by screens.
“I think that there is so much time spent as an artist being alone and that’s when the internet becomes this great tool to connect with people. I used to be completely against Instagram because I hated having a size of image prescribed to me. Now I am using it more than tumblr to find image inspiration.” She continues by explaining how these new mediums and mediation of imagery, art, visuals and sound have become quite definitive in her work.
“I think it started more as an observer of what was happentng on Tumblrs like o-c-u-l-t-o and I started to collect images and screenshots of things that attracted me purely in a formal aesthetic sense. Then I started to think about what exactly fascinated me about it- the glossy effect of commercial photography and digital processing- excessive photoshopping- images that never seemed quite real but that I wanted to possess in some way.
Commercial commodities are now designed to be visually translated through screens, assigning IRL products a value of flatness and training our eyes to demand overstimulation in color, gloss, and drop shadows. And I wanted to address this in my work. It’s not enough for me to see imagery on screens. The jpeg is not enough for me somehow”.
Salama is also critical of technology, and although her work could be seen as futuristic in a sense; the iridescent colours she uses may seem to represent the sheen of new technology or the overstimulation our eyes have adjusted to, she in fact critiques the invulnerability and destructiveness of technology.
“I coat hair and lint in opaque iridescent plastic- you would never know that I was obscuring information from you unless you saw my materials list. I feel like this reflects the short life span of technology. Every day a new product comes out and an something else goes out of fashion. Pigments fade, oil paint erodes, latex decays while net trends slip away,” she explains.
Certainly as so many of us are online and bound to technology, it’s definitely intriguing to view work that questions the notions of contemporary viewing. It seems Salama’s work poses the question to what extent has imagery and art become amplified and processed through technology that it alters the viewing of it?
Words / Jamie-Maree Shipton