ORIGINALS: NEW DIGITAL DRAWINGS BY JONATHAN MORSE AT FISHER PRESS GALLERY, SANTA FE
Historical milestone dates, like turns of the century or even of millennia, are periods of great cultural anticipation and portent. The future is arriving on our doorstep with a big impressive new number, and we expect momentous changes to sweep in with it. In art we are forever branding our creative efforts by their era and attempting to project an aura of revolutionary invention around them. But how often is it true? The reality is more likely to be something of a letdown. What claims to be new is often the old thing in a new hat, while the true revolutionaries toil quietly at some obscure, self-directed discipline that attracts less fanfare or acclaim. It is only much later that historians and commentators find the evidence of what was actually shifting in the culture, or in our art, at that dramatic turn of the dates.
One thing that has most emphatically changed since the century turned is that we have a new artistic medium that is made entirely with the digital tools of the personal computer. The high-resolution digital cameras and imaging technology and software programs that were developed in the 1990s – Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop in particular – found their most widely applicable physical expression in the development of the photographic inkjet printer, whose first archivally stable color ink set was introduced in the year 2000. Since then, archival digital printing (more specifically: the production of computer generated images through inkjet technology on fine-art papers using lightfast pigmented inks), has found its way into many areas of fine arts printing and reproduction that were formerly produced either chemically in the darkroom, or with more fugitive dye-based inks in commercial offset lithography.
Jonathan Morse is an artist of this new age, and in many ways he is a trailblazer. It is typical, when a new methodology for manufacturing art arrives, for artists to try and bend its potential to older aesthetic habits. The first artist photographers in the 19th century tried to make photographs look like paintings. Many of those who embraced Acrylic paints soon after their development in the past century tried, in vain, to make them behave like oils. The imaging arts of our age are full of examples of people attempting to make these new digital tools imitate the hand or the older kinds of film cameras and photographic papers. Jonathan does none of these things. He has taken hold of both the computer and its digitally generated physical products, and has absorbed himself in learning to navigate and manipulate their actual nature. The result, as seen in this exciting exhibition of what I consider to be his most fully realized work in the medium, is something we have never seen before. This is computer art with a human hand embedded in its heart. Precisely by abandoning all attempts to make facsimiles of handmade things, he has found a way to make a technological thing that has had human life breathed into it. These are not photographs, or copies of something else – they are original works of art made wholly by technology, yet guided by a thoughtful and engaged human intellect.
The Fisher Press is proud to give Jonathan Morse a chance to show you these wonderful 21st century paintings and drawings.
Christopher Benson – The Fisher Press, 2011