Tommy Mintz’s Solo Show
at DigiAna Studio
Algorithmic Fabric-ation / Artist Statement
I walk around the city and notice familiar places and drastic changes. The contrast of textured old landmarks and stark new towers is visually striking. I choose a location, often neighborhood street corners or plazas with views over low buildings, changing storefronts, and towering cranes, with attention to architecture, sky, light, and paths of movement. For many minutes, I stand still with my eyes open looking both through and beside the camera and take sequences
of photographs of New York City’s parade of people. I look for variety in shapes, sizes, and colors on people who walk along or zoom by on any number of electric wheels. The joy and beauty in the movement of people through the city is particularly notable now in the echo of the emptiness that occurred in 2020.
In my studio, at a computer, I run the photographs through a program I wrote, the Automated Digital Photo Collage (ADPC). The ADPC compares a sequence of photographs, pixel by pixel, for areas of change. Pixel areas that are detected as different are layered on top in the image.
Layering areas of its own choosing, the ADPC creates a decidedly nonhuman view, which intrigues with its logic and strange algorithmic humor. The ADPC echoes our human struggle to remember, in this moment of the inception of digital augmentation. The familiar gaps parallel our own fragmented perceptions.
The prints in this exhibition are on different fabrics: silk, velour, leatherette, cotton, roller blind – the textures and other physical qualities of the fabrics are in contrast to the ephemera of data of the digital original. This physicality creates a unique place and time of viewing, as opposed to
the arbitrary context of viewing a work on a screen.
I’m interested in our evolving tension between the physical and digital world – particularly how digital photography affects our understanding of ourselves and the passage of time. How do our individual memories and collective understanding change through spending increasing amounts
of time interacting with digital images? By using algorithmic photography in both the landscape and street traditions, I hope to raise questions of our understanding, perception, and memory of contemporary spaces.
One photograph describes a place in a moment of time. Combining multiple photographs into a single image can convey the passage of time in a place. Many notable artists meticulously stitch photographs together into a seamless illusion of an extended moment. I am interested in the
seams that arise when combining images algorithmically instead of by hand. The decisions the algorithms come to are of a different aesthetic; strange things appear in the image that a human would not decide to include. Where the incongruities arise, there are interesting new forms created, natural to the digital image.
My practice is based in Street photography, from Gary Winogrand, Helen Levitt, and Andre Kertesz, well as the collage process of photography of Murbridge, Marey, Reijlander, Hannah Hoch, Jerry Uelsmann, Wang Quingsong, and Stephen Wilkes.
My most well known project, The New York City Public Toilet Map, 2008, drew on my experiences as a street photographer and the universal need for publicly accessible restrooms. I researched, designed, and printed the pocket-sized New York City Public Toilet Map, which was unveiled at the Jewish Museum, as part of Danielle Abrams’ performance ”Uncle Bob's Variety Show”. The map sold hundreds of copies and was reviewed in the New York Times City Room blog, BoingBoing, and Gothamist. I am also a member of the artist’s collective, The Institute for Wishful Thinking, which advocates solving public problems by calling upon the creativity of artists and designers. Since the beginning of the pandemic, I have been an active participant in the Techspressionism Artist group. I am currently an Associate Professor of Photography at CUNY Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn, NY.
I am also the company photographer for the Hudson Guild Theatre Company. For over ten years, I have documented their productions. Recently, I have photographed with the intention of running the photographs through the ADPC and have been quite pleased with some of the results. The prints on leatherette and velour are generated from photographs of Hudson Guild Theatre Company’s November 2022 production “Sun / Blurring Shine”.
The walls that form the DigiAna Gallery space are intended to create a unique place in space and time for conversations to occur. These conversations will both be affected by the presence of the prints and also be physically absorbed by the prints, which will retain the collective energy of the space. I am honored you are viewing this work and contributing with your presence.
Thank you, Seungjin Lee for creating the DigiAna Gallery and curating your inaugural exhibition with these prints.
-Tommy Mintz, NYC, 2/2023
Algorithmic Fabric-ation / By Seungjin Lee; Organizer of DigiAna Group
The first time I saw Tommy’s new artwork, photographs of Hudson Guild Theater Company’s November 2022 production “Sun / Blurring Shine”, I felt multiple time sequences in one photograph, time parallel cubism. I always loved Tommy’s approach to the digital mixed society of culture, art and photography since we met several years before in Techpressionism group exhibition. Techspressionism describes fine artists using digital technology to convey subjective, emotional content. I believe we are enjoying this unique intersection between digital and analog or non digital going on eras through creativity and shared activity.
To better explain my opinion of this time Tommy’s show I would use several sentences from his statement.
“Layering areas of its own choosing, the ADPC creates a decidedly nonhuman view, which intrigues with its logic and strange algorithmic humor. “
Is it true digital or algorithm or robots can make humor? When I think about this theme, I can notice a strange sense mixed by excitement and fear. On Youtube, many notable intellectuals are talking about AI singularity; a hypothetical future point in time at which technological growth beyond people’s abilities, some expect it would come in 2040 but others said 2025 is only 2 years left from current. One of the current era artists’ abilities I believe is to enjoy this phenomenon and shift in their creativity. It is related to Glitch art; favorite art style of me and several artists participate in DigiAna.
“This physicality; the prints in this exhibition are on different fabrics: silk, velour, leatherette, cotton, roller blind creates a unique place and time of viewing, as opposed to the arbitrary context of viewing a work on a computer screen/tablet/phone.”
I know smartphones and digital screens are so comfortable to see and share visual information around the world. But why do I sometimes feel lonely and can find so many articles about loneliness, especially high oftenly social network users? This problem might connect with non publicly studied fields such as well-bing, quantanium science and even dark energy theory. One of the reasons I tried to set up DigiAna studio is to make a physical interaction and discussion space where people can feel a different atmosphere opposite through digital contents. I believe you would catch some unexplainable elements from his various fabric prints.
I am honored DigiAna Studio can show their first event as Tommy’s this time solo show, such a great artist and always supporter of DigiAna.
If you want to support his activity or purchase Tommy’s work please ask him directly. TommyMintz.art