|Todd McDonald. Go In to Get Out, 2014; oil on panel; 48 x 72 in. Courtesy of the Artist.|
Todd McDonald: Visual Feedback at Redux Contemporary Art CenterApril 24, 2015 Written by Bryan Granger
The gesture which we would reproduce on canvas shall no longer be a fixed moment in universal dynamism. It shall simply be the dynamic sensation itself. — Umberto Boccioni, et al, 1910
Todd McDonald’s Visual Feedback at Redux Contemporary Art Center addresses new modes of processing and viewing digital images as part of a painting practice. McDonald collects photographs of architectural elements and urban landscapes in order to change them with digital filtering, mirroring, and layering. These manipulation techniques are not novel; rather, they have become the prevalent tools for modifying images. But McDonald’s populist choice of image manipulation is deliberate, and is fascinating when viewed in the context of abstract art—particularly of the avant-garde of the early 20th century.
Take McDonald’s Go In to Get Out (2014), for instance. On its own, the painting appears as a scintillating abstract work that uses scale, strong lines, and vivid color contrasts to enthrall the viewer. Semblances of everyday life appear here and there, with parts of columns and doors becoming subtly recognizable. The painting also has a strong symmetry, both horizontally and vertically. McDonald carefully mirrored and layered a series of images, and then used the digitally manipulated image to create an abstracted composition on canvas with oil paint.
|Todd McDonald. Bloom, 2014; oil on panel; 48 x 72 in. Courtesy of the Artist.|
|Todd McDonald. Prop Interval, 2014; oil on panel; 62 x 37 in. Courtesy of the Artist.|
|Todd McDonald. Too Many Days in the Blue Maze, 2014; oil on panel; 21 x 41 in. Courtesy of the Artist.|
|Todd McDonald. Plasticstacy, 2015; duct tape and mixed media; dimensions variable. Courtesy of the Artist|
McDonald has also created a site-specific installation using duct tape of various colors and patterns titled Plasticstacy (2015). While duct tape can have a gimmicky connotation—and McDonald does little to challenge that—his use of the material traces an impressive conceptual lineage. Referencing Thierry de Duve’s ideas in “The Readymade and the Tube of Paint,” in which the writer links the process of selecting colors and forms to the process in which Marcel Duchamp selected everyday objects as art, McDonald uses duct tape as a medium in which to conflate physical and virtual space. Hovering between the second and third dimensions, Plasticstacy uses extreme perspective to examine the perception of space. In this way, the installation is conceptually linked to his paintings, in which he explores the representation of space through digital images and painting.
McDonald’s paintings ultimately remind viewers that images—especially digital images, which are often and easily manipulated—negotiate our conceptions of and relationship to the world. By using the medium of painting to further bend these images into complex forms, McDonald explores our reliance on the very images that often mediate our own reality.
Todd McDonald: Visual Feedback is on view at Redux Contemporary Art Center through May 9, 2014.