The human eye is desperate for patterns and familiarity, we seek out the recognisable, it’s what the brain wants. And Seth Price does not care.
The New York-based artist’s latest series of paintings is an experiment in diving as deep as possible into the uncanny valley.
He first paints on canvas, then takes a photo of the painting and manipulates it digitally, then reprints it back on itself. The result is big glossy paintings smeared with bright paint, all overlaid with perfectly rendered 3D objects. A smudged woman’s face smiles out at you from one work, with two neat, cold, golden metal cylinders leering out of the canvas above her. Text is reflected in the metal in another, or a man’s face, or just globs of paint. Each painting is reflecting and distorting bits of itself.
The result is that you as a viewer spend your time trying to untie the physical from the digital, attempting to figure out what's 'really' painted and what's printed. It's like spotting shapes in clouds, or looking for figurative elements in abstraction. Our eyes really want that meaning, and in Price's work that desperation becomes a hunt for the physical in a world that has become indecipherably digital.
There’s a bit of a whiff of big trophy art for rich bankers to the whole thing, but Price’s art is clever, pretty and it makes your brain ache a little bit. Uncanny.