Jason Salavon, ‘Spigot (Babbling Self-Portrait)’, 2010, Bowdoin College Museum of Art

Jason Salavon’s Spigot (Babbling Self-Portrait) documents the artist’s archived Google searches. Employing a format reminiscent of Color Field painting and light art of the 1960s, Salavon directs the data into two different formats: one using words and dates, and the other outputting the same information as bands of fluctuating squares of color. Suggesting that our identity is both reflected and shaped by our interaction with the virtual environments we occupy, Salavon also implicitly critiques a culture of surveillance, in which the searches (and behaviors) of consumers using the Web are recorded. Though not physically represented, Salavon simultaneously reveals himself by publicizing intimate choices. The tension between the self as body and the self as data becomes palpable, as Salavon’s self-portrait—ultimately impossible for any one viewer to absorb in its entirety—demonstrates that the “face” one shows to the world is but one element of the mediated and manipulated construction of a twenty-first century self.

Image rights: © Jason Salavon. Photo: Bill Orcutt.

Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York, New York.

About Jason Salavon

New media artist Jason Salavon transforms cultural data into visual compositions, reformatting information into rich patterns and visual “averages” that reveal insights into consumer images and our relationship with them. Manipulating data with his own software design and algorithms, Salavon has digitally fused hundreds of images—such as pornography—into aggregates. For his exhibition “Tragedy of the Commons”, Salavon recorded one week’s worth of TV programming on HBO, CNN, and ESPN and manipulated the resulting data into blocks, stripes, and pixels to indicate the patterns embedded in branding strategies and scheduling, which he then presented as large-scale prints. Salavon also riffs on art historical themes, creating aggregate digital portraits of artists from the 17th-century Dutch Golden Age.

American, b. 1970, Indiana, based in Chicago, Illinois