Artist and writer Andrew Norman Wilson makes videos and sculptures that develop from his sustained inquiries into how capital and labor intersect with cultural production. Building on his own experiences working for tech companies as well as with activist and labor organizations, Wilson’s works take a critical eye to corporations including Eastman Kodak (Kodak, 2018) and Google (Workers Leaving the Googleplex, 2011) to consider how economies like those of Silicon Valley, the entertainment industry, and the art world manufacture cultural products from contracted labor.
His videos also look to the history of photography and cinema as principal sites for the development and circulation of images, adopting filmic strategies that range from documentary to animation. The artist’s multi-part project [Z = |Z/Z•Z-1 mod 2|-1 (2019–ongoing), for example, employs three key imaging technologies—the telephoto lens, photorealistic 8K CGI, and fractal generating algorithm software—that speak to the mechanisms through which technical cinematic images, whether lens-based or computer generated, cast the illusion of reality.
The recursive visuals of the series’ first two videos (subtitled The Old Victrola and Lavender Town Syndrome, respectively) utilize a single location, Bertrand Goldberg’s Marina City apartments in Chicago, whose honeycomb-shaped architecture has been featured in nearly a dozen Hollywood films. These works begin with a succession of objects and figures that occupy an exterior balcony, and which are presented in a voyeuristic sequence of 16-second-long zooms. Later, the same camera technique is applied to photorealistic computer-generated imagery of fractals. Each forward movement towards the gleaming geometric surfaces offers a sense of infinite regress, while the repeated zooms relate the obvious artifice of these virtual spatial renderings to the subtler contrivance of the filmic representations of the Marina City structure.
Taking up a narrative device commonly used in motion picture serials, Wilson employs a metafictional framework to situate the videos that comprise Z = |Z/Z•Z-1 mod 2|-1 as works authored by a collective of artists who have become disillusioned with the contemporary art world. Convinced that art-making is an ineffective tool for social change, the group refocuses their efforts towards what they believe to be a more productive, transhumanist, design project—synthesizing 3-D fractal environments for disembodied minds to inhabit in a future when human consciousness can be uploaded as data. As fragments of this convoluted narrative are gradually revealed throughout the course of Lavender Town Syndrome, so are Wilson’s implicit critiques of the ideologies that underpin techno-utopian thought and the art academy.
Andrew Norman Wilson (b. 1983 Millis, MA) lives and works in Los Angeles. Recent exhibitions include Lavender Town Syndrome, Ordet, Milan (2020); In Practice: Total Disbelief, SculptureCenter, New York (2020); Hirngespenster, Kunstverein Braunschweig (2019); Picture Industry, Luma Foundation, Arles (2018); and Dreamlands, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2017). Wilson received his BS from Syracuse University and his MA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is a recipient of a Dedalus Foundation Fellowship and an Akademie Schloss Solitude Fellowship.
List Projects 23: Andrew Norman Wilson is organized by Selby Nimrod, Assistant Curator, MIT List Visual Arts Center.
Exhibitions at the List Center are made possible with the support of Karen & Gregory Arenson, Fotene & Tom Coté, Audrey & James Foster, Idee German Schoenheimer, Joyce Linde, Cynthia & John Reed, and Sara-Ann & Robert Sanders.
General operating support is provided by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; the Council for the Arts at MIT; Philip S. Khoury, Associate Provost at MIT; the MIT School of Architecture + Planning; the Mass Cultural Council; and many generous individual donors. In-kind media sponsorship provided by 90.9 WBUR. The Advisory Committee Members of the List Visual Arts Center are gratefully acknowledged.