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Laura Owens

Untitled (2014)

There is hardly an artistic technique that reads as materially concrete and palpable as ceramics. Necessarily registering the traces of the artist’s hands that were involved in its shaping, the ceramic object appeals to the haptic sense. If Laura Owens, for her edition for “Texte zur Kunst,” hence decides to recreate a set of twelve emojis using this technique, the effect is both ironic and intriguing. These pictorial symbols have come to encode, most succinctly, a basic set of emotions and are used for digital communication, whether via texting or social media, where they circulate weightlessly as funny little standardized replacements for the human face; substitutions for the materially absent interlocutor. Remodeled as a set of irregularly shaped white globes that stand out in front of a wooden background, they now lurk in real space like a collection of animal specimens. This arrangement is photographed and then digitally manipulated to create, for example, the blue tear, and the black pupils of the emojis’ eyes. Further, Owens has added a set of three residually expressive yellow strokes executed in vinyl polymer. The result is a work that is at once intricate and entertaining: Firmly rejecting any easy conceptualization of “post-net” art, it bounces back and forth between analogue and digital, drawing its qualities from this ongoing traffic between the domain of objects and the realm of information.

Inkjet print and Flashe vinyl paint on Gampi paper, 49.5 × 41.6 cm, edition: 100 + 20 A.P., numbered and signed on the front, € 350.– plus shipping.