Biography

Visakh Menon is an artist from India, currently living in New York. His interdisciplinary practice spans drawing, video, installations & media art .

Visakh has exhibited nationally and internationally including recent shows at the IFP Media Center, Fountain Art Fair, NY Film Fest, Openings Collective, DUMBO arts festival, Governor’s Island Art Fair, Spattered Columns (NY), Gallery Aferro (NJ), Digital Media City Gallery (Seoul) and included in the Rhizome Art Base.  He was selected for the Mentoring Fellowship for Immigrant Artists at New York Foundation for the Arts in 2010 (NYFA).

Born 1980, Cochin, India


Artist Statement

How does human machine interaction impact perception ? This has been the key area of exploration in my interdisciplinary practice over the last 10 years. My current body of work focuses on the visual language of digital artifacts & the aesthetics of glitch. This series of mixed media works on paper are created using an unique process of rubbings, drawings and collage. The algorithmic aesthetics of these works pushes into focus both the functional (generative) and dysfunctional (glitch) nature of code as a tool for expression. Experimenting with images manipulated through various modes of digital image analysis, compression algorithms and interpolation to study their impact on color and effect on perception, informs the content of this series. Compositionally these works are aligned towards ideas of geometric abstraction and color field paintings with a process transitioning from the digital to traditional mediums and driven by the notion of repetition as an act of meditation.


Education

  • M.F.A Maryland Institute College of Art. (2007)
  • Electronics for Artists, continuing studies program,
    School of Visual Art, NY (2010)
  • BA Visual Communications, Bharathiyar Univ, India
Art Direction & Design : Portfolio

Selected Exhibitions

    2016
  • Solo show: Signal / Noise, Fairleigh Dickinson University Gallery, NJ. Curated by Sunhee Yoon.
  • 2015
  • VIEWS. New media show of video works at NY media Center and projection on the Manhattan Bridge. Curated by Leo Keulbs Collection
  • 1st Annual Asian Contemporary Show at Mid Hudson Heritage Center, Curated by Xuewu Zheng & Hayoon Jae Lee.
  • Unknown Spring: Filmgate Interactive festival, Miami
  • HIVEMIND, Shag, Brooklyn, NY, Curated by Samantha Bard, collaborative site-specific installation with Rachel Meuler
  • 2014
  • Solo presentation at the Fountain Art Fair
  • The Space Between: Group show curated by Diana Buckley, Paul Kolker Gallery, NY
  • Unknown Spring: NYFF at Howard Gilman Theater, Lincoln Center.
  • 2013
  • Solo Show: Levels: Reene Weiler Gallery- Greenwich house, NYC.
  • Chariots of the Odds: Small Worlds - Juried group show at the Target gallery, Torpedo factory art center, VA (2013)
  • Chariots of the Odds: All of the Above- Juried group show at the Church of St Paul the Apostle, NY (2013) Curated by Michael London Berube & Keena Gonzalez (Openings Collective)
  • Bonus Level 12: Governors Island Art Fair, New York Foundation for the Arts gallery (2013)
  • 2012-2009
  • Solo installation. Memorial for Lost Connections: Chashama Windows space grant, NYC, (2012)
  • Altar for MacGuffins: MICA Alumni Show, Spattered Columns Gallery, NYC (2012)
  • RED-BLUE-GREEN (redux): Relexification- Gallery Aferro, NJ (2011)
  • Altar for MacGuffins, Push Pull, NYFA immigrant artist mentoring fellowship group show (2010)
  • DUMBO arts festival (2010)
  • Altar for Avatar replication Group show, Digital media Pavilion, Seoul, South Korea (2010)
  • Tracer, Tracer, Six channel video commission for LG electronics, Seoul, South Korea (2010)

Speaking & Teaching Engagements

  • M.I.T media labs: Presentation to the Interactive documentary group (2016)
  • NY Film Festival, Lincoln Center, NY (2015)
  • NY Hall of Science, Visiting Faculty, animation bootcamp, NY (2014)
  • Filmgate interactive festival, Miami(2014, 2015)
  • Teaching Assistant, Electronic Media & Culture, Maryland Institute College of Art (Spring 2006)
  • Faculty, animation, Young People Studio, Maryland Institute College of Art (Summer 2006)
  • Teaching Assistant, Graphic Design II, Maryland Institute College of Art (Fall 2006)
  • Teaching Assistant, Graphic Design Senior Studio, Maryland Institute College of Art (Spring 2007)
  • Faculty, animation, Young People Studio, Maryland Institute College of Art (Spring 2007)

Fellowships & Residencies

  • Residency : Arteles, Finland (2015)
  • NYFA Immigrant Artist Fellowship (2010)
  • World Photo Press (2014)

Essay on the Tape Drawings Series

Visakh Menon’s new work is a series of drawings created by combining the surrealist techniques of frottage and collage. He utilizes the automatic method of frottage by using a stick of colored charcoal that he rubs over a paper surface in order to highlight the unevenness of its texture that otherwise remain invisible to the eye. Then, by pressing the sticky stripes of the clear adhesive tape against the covered with charcoal paper, he “picks up” the traces of uneven texture to reproduce them on a different surface. As he transfers the material traces of charcoal from one paper surface to another, Menon plays with the micro-topography of surfaces and the micro-landscape of paper as such. The material dimension of work and its visceral nature are especially important for the artist who believes that the immediacy of this process cannot be rendered and, if lost, cannot be remediated.

The series is a result of the endless automatic repetition of similar gestures—pressing, rubbing, and cutting—before the rectangular traces are assembled as a single abstract composition. What might seem as a big departure from Menon’s earlier complex video and installation work still bears a strong connection to the realm of digital culture. Visually, the collages resemble the level maps of the vintage 8-bit video games. The works also contain the small black sprites that reference the game graphics directly, while the traces of paper’s texture create the impression of pixilation.

Besides, the elements of the works are all copied and pasted patterns that follow the logic of sampling and remix where the artist’s intuition and the element of chance are both crucial for composition. However, the series as a whole might also be seen as a variation of just one pattern that evolves in front of the viewer’s eyes like John Horton Conway’s Game of Life, absolutely on its own.

The algorithmic aesthetics of the collages brings up the notion of code as a rule for converting a certain piece of information into another form or representation. One of Menon’s big inspirations is Daphne Oram’s revolutionary work in electronic sound and her technique of “Oramics” that allowed for “drawing music.” Menon’s collages contain the rhythms, as even they are ready to be fed through Oram’s sound machine. As such, they, however, challenge the literal correspondence between the sound code and its visual representation. The series encourages the viewer moving beyond the representational paradigms, to where a code is no longer a convertor that transforms the information patterns in a different form. Instead, by tricking the viewers into playful decoding of what looks like readable sound patterns, the series of Menon’s collages gives birth to the inexistent, unseen or unheard—coming from within the machine.

By: Svitlana Matviyenko (writer, curator & media scholar)