An Evolution of Multiples: Jomar Statkun's THE CHINESE PAINTING: A Distinguishable Moment within an Infinitesimal Increment in a Variable


A Distinguishable Moment within an Infinitesimal
Increment in a Variable

By Jomar Statkun


(Performance - 1st set)
Full Video:
Part 1:
Part 2:

(Performance - 2nd set)
Full Video:
Part 1:
Part 2:

A Distinguishable Moment within an Infinitesimal
Increment in a Variable

1. An original abstract oil on canvas is
painted by the artist Jomar Statkun.

2. A photograph is taken of the abstract painting
using an image analyzing program. The program
analyzes the abstract painting and tries to find
its image on the internet.

3. As the program naturally cannot find
the exact image of the abstract painting, it
proposes similar images based on color,
composition, texture, and other visual data.

4. These proposed images are collected along
with their accompanying websites.

5. A selection of the proposed images are then
emailed to an oil painting reproduction factory
in Xiamen City, Fujian Province, China. There
the proposed images are made into hand
painted oil on canvas reproductions.

6. These oil on canvas reproductions are then
collected and photographed. They are then made
into black and white halftone images for
silkscreen printing.

7. In addition to being printed, these halftone
images are imported into a program that
converts images into sound.

8. The artist Jomar Statkun acts as MC and
manipulates the sound.

9. Invited performers interact with the sound.

10. The viewer is welcome to take pictures of the
hand painted oil on canvas reproductions and
to have their own made by the oil painting
factory in China.

Jomar Statkun, Untitled, Oil on canvas, 2011

Jomar Statkun’s A Distinguishable Moment Within an Infinitesimal Increment in a Variable, 2011, originates with an abstract painting, but ends, at least in this iteration, with many beats of pixilated sound. Statkun’s work centers on concepts of authenticity and the artistic process; he examines the way images are perceived, translated, filtered, and re-appropriated. In this piece, presented as an installation/performance, Statkun acts as mediator between his work, his audience, and a group of 14 selected collaborative performers, who interact with the newest version of his “image.” The work’s many trajectories and transformations document Statkun’s own artistic exploration. Starting with a thick, painterly abstraction made several years ago, he used an image-based computer application (“Google Goggles”) which attempts to recognize or “locate” images from a vast, digital database. Given the painting’s lack of identifiable features, the computerized outcomes were highly “translated,” providing concrete visual imagery for something essentially image-less. A selection of results—landscapes, people, mythological and fantasy scenes—was sent to a painting reproduction factory in China, where workers hand-reproduced the images, again re-interpreting them.

Artists painting in China, 2011

Photo: Aram Jibilian

Statkun’s removal of himself from the process conceptually echoes the distance of the artist from the print, and references the idea of the multiple—essentially, his “matrix” is the original abstract painting, displaced by its “copy.” With the hired participation of Chinese workers, Statkun comments on ideas of labor and third-world exploitation while questioning ideas of authorship and originality.

3 stages of an image, 2011

The paintings were next scanned as halftones and shot to silkscreen in a grid of 28 images. The silkscreens, printed in black-and-white, wallpaper the exterior and interior of a room-like, free-standing structure, which serves as the catalyst for the images’ next variation. (The silkscreened wallpaper aptly references an original use of the technique, while also linking its history of mass-production to the repetitive quality of the Chinese factory.) Chinese paintings and reference material (the images’ website sources, photographs of the Chinese “artists,” copies of Statkun’s signature) are displayed, as if decorating a house of infinite variables.

Photo: Aram Jibilian

Within the installation, Statkun positions himself as “MC”—he is yet another filter in the process—and uploads the halftone files to a computer program that converts their “dots” to beats (from visual data to sound data.)

Photo: Aram Jibilian

The elementary music provides background for a series of invited performers who engage (some improvised, some not) the images’ rhythms, filtering yet again with their own artistic response. Set up as a casual, round-table-like discussion, Statkun becomes the moderator of a collaborative “conversation”—its subject the now audible images, the artist simply one working part of a larger mechanism.

Photo: Nadja Frank

In the continuing evolution of his project, Statkun searches for the ultimate distillation of an artwork’s “essence,” attempting to dislodge its authenticity and removing his “hand” from the process. Yet, even in diffusion, a discernable path remains, the many variables connected by their own particular history.

THE CHINESE PAINTING: A Distinguishable Moment within an Infinitesimal Increment in a Variable was exhibited from December 9th – January 23rd, 2011 at The Gowanus Studio Space, 166 7th Street, Brooklyn, NY.


About Jomar Statkun

Jomar Statkun received his MFA at Boston University. He is a recipient of the Jack Kramer Award and the Esther B. and Albert S. Kahn Award. He is a founding member of “This Red Door” and the Wechselbalg collective. His work has been shown in numerous international exhibitions. He has been a professor at Columbia University and is currently teaching at Pratt Institute.

He lives and works in New York.

About the author

Maggie Wright received a BFA in printmaking from the Rhode Island School of Designin 1996 and an MA in art history from Hunter College in 2004. She has worked as a master printer and studio manager at Harlan & Weaver since 1996, and began archiving Louise Bourgeois’s personal papers for the Louise Bourgeois Archive in 2009. She also teaches etching at Columbia University. Wright writes frequently for gallery exhibitions and catalogue essays, and lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.


Video Credits (Below): Drea Bernardi, Francesse Maingrette, Jomar Statkun
Performers: Matthew Burgess, Blake Carrington, Aram Jibilian, Alden Jones, Pooneh Maghazehe, Joe Pavelka, George Positive, Lior Shvil, Christopher Stackhouse, Skye Steele, Willie Survive, Zefrey Throwell, Genevieve White, and Hollis Witherspoon.