Jason Salavon Taps into the Simpsons and Wikipedia to Explore our Changing Digital Landscape
If the latest works by Jason Salavon remind you of a broken computer monitor or a scrambled TV screen when the cable is out, you’ve already picked up on a few of the artist’s primary interests: pop culture, consumerism, and human interaction with digital images.
If you look a bit closer at All the Ways (Couch Gag) (2016), you’ll recognize a scene familiar to anyone who has been in front of a TV in the past 20 years: Matt Groening’s yellow animated family seated on their living room couch in the opening sequence of The Simpsons. But Salavon manipulates the image to such an extent that it becomes abstract and watercolor-like, its saturated colors softened and muted. The piece complements the other subtly mind-bending artworks featured in “All the Ways,” Salavon’s third solo show at Mark Moore Gallery in Culver City, California.
Other works in the show also riff on The Simpsons, such as the visually busy, nearly indecipherable The End 3, 2016 / Chalkboard Gag, Episode 550 Mr. Plow (2016). Meanwhile, the delicately beautiful All the Ways (The Simpsons), 2016 / Wallpaper (2016) is a mosaic-like display of the series’s bold color palette.
Other works are in a different category altogether. The Master Index (MMG.1) (2016) looks like a Word .doc; it is wallpaper with simple black text typed on a plain white background. As the name suggests, it is an index, a list of 225 items running the range from “1. Facebook” to “225. Emma Watson,” with “Leonardo da Vinci,” “Taylor Swift,” “Global warming,” “Sex,” “Thanksgiving,” and hundreds of others listed in between. The list doesn’t have a title, so you might think it’s an index of popular online search terms, which is partially true. The Master Index is the result of Salavon’s rather exhaustive summary of public interests based on an index of the five million most popular Wikipedia articles. The work is stark and fascinating, humorous, even grotesque.
Each piece in “All the Ways” seems to be reacting to our changing times and the modern world’s digital metamorphosis. Though the show is still on the air, the living room scene from The Simpsons already seems like a relic of the past, from a day not so long ago when we didn’t have pocket-sized minicomputers to search the world’s information at the touch of a button.