The Aesthetic of Systems 

There are many artists who attempt to visualize physical and digital realms using the aesthetic of systems. In my work I am inspired by Julie Mehretu, Sara Sze, David Altmejd, Katja Novitskova and Molly Soda’s methods of responding to systems of information and layering of space. I consider all their work to be in the breadth of drawing.  

In Julie Mehretu’s large scale drawings and paintings of urban spaces and networks, she uses layers of marks representing the overlapping systems of data and infrastructure, often making the location unrecognizable in the final work (“Art21: Systems”). Mehretu filters this data and interweaves it into her marks as sensory information, and all that comes with knowing and experiencing a place. For example in, Retopictics: A Renegade Excavation (2001), the background has numerous lines resembling architecture blue prints overlapped with organic doodles, solid planes of colour and cut out shapes. The mixture of these layers creates depth through the different tones of colour, angled lines and changes in scale. Moreover, in Sarah Sze, and David Altmejd sculpture installations, they make connections to seemingly disjointed objects yet create a space where they can melt, tangle and weave into one another. Sarah Sze focuses on larger environmental and spatial questions. In an interview with ArtSpace she says, “When I conceive of a work, I choreograph the experience to create an ebb and flow of information” (Artspace 2016). Comparatively, Altmejd’s sculptures remind me of otherworldly word webs, on the brink of fantasy and realism. His installations, attempt to capture the life forms of sculpture, creating a space that occupies in-between worlds and energies (Vogl 2012). Similar to the gesture of drawing, these artists create alternative spaces where the objects are given a place to connect. 

There are artists who also adopt this aesthetic to critically engage with narratives implemented from digital media.  For example, in Katja Novitskova’s work, she explores the replication and circulation of images in the form of seemingly 2D sculptures, mimicking the free form ground where digital images exist. Her sculptures, sourced from scanners and satellites to laboratory organisms, feel mismatched and disconnected, yet how they are layered in a shared space insinuates their relation (The Influencers Festival 2018). Artist Molly Soda examines the aesthetics, politics and interactions within digital space by creating works that exist within it. Soda embraces her presence in digital media by creating work in the form of gifs, YouTube videos, selfies, blog posts and desktop applications. In her work, From My Bedroom to Yours, she mashes the aesthetic of a teenager’s room and personal blog to comment on the similarities of the spaces being sites of private confession and self-expression.