Artist Profile: Laura Brothers

slip ohno, 2011

Browsing through your work it becomes clear that iteration is an important part of your process. In one of your more recent works, titled cathy drawl, you create six versions themed around the same formal elements. How does the process of iterating around a particular element contribute to your work?

I assume that the way in which my work is normally viewed is through the action of scrolling. You’re on a computer and you are gliding the images in succession past your gaze. I liken this to a sort of super slow motion film strip. It’s a way of storytelling. For a post, each individual image is viewed in relation to the one that comes before it and the one that follows. Meanwhile, they are all sort of floating in an endless black space. There’s no real clear-cut definition between the images in this context. So to me, within each post, each distinct image is really part of the same piece; the same story. In the case of cathy drawl, it was a matter of showcasing the underlying elements of the images and then building on them; transforming them like characters in the panels of a comic. I find the basic formal elements of the images to be what dictates the inclusive mood of the more elaborate pieces so I tend to want to pull them out and show them in isolation but still in conjunction with the compounded imagery. It’s usually about trying to find a gentle balance within my work for how the principal imagery is rendered; spreading from a subdued minimal execution to an overkill of maximum complexity.

In truth, the iteration is also largely a result of my tendency to want to post too much. The blog began as a personal diary for me; a carefree safe place where it wasn’t really necessary to consider editing down my output. It was just for me. I guess sometimes I still want to cling to the exploratory and free nature of that. What I post now is usually a scissored down version of a much less curated collection. Less punchy. More overwhelming. I do often fantasize about revealing the unseen and just posting all my sketches in their most raw constructions. But where’s the artistry in that?

The titles of your work often aid the abstracted nature of your aesthetics and give them a more representational feel. Is titling something you consider after you’ve created a piece or does it come first and serve as a guide for what you are creating?

In general, it’s pieces first, titles second. The titles usually emerge in a handful of ways: There are times when they sort of erupt out of quick, paranoia-driven file saving. I am constantly saving versions of my work as I create so I usually just name the files with whatever pops into my head. Sometimes, this ends up being a clue into what the piece is really about, and the titles then develop from further associations with those original stream-of-conscience file names. Other times it’s sincerely a matter of something akin to a dada-ist assemblage of words or a surrealist exquisite corpse of phrases. I find words/ideas that I want to tie in with the piece and then I chop them up and re-assemble them to say maybe something utterly different that is still somehow hinting at the original impression. I want the titles to play off of the visuals and have some contrast in their overall vibe while also incorporating some duplicity within the phrase and interpretation, if possible.

You work a lot with animated GIFs and glitch aesthetics. Can you speak about those interests and what draws you to them?

The animation aspect of my work has less to do with any type of nostalgic adoration for the GIF format, and more to do with the fact that a GIF is, simply and essentially, a series of distinct still images. Choosing to make GIFs of some of my pieces is a natural progression from the iteration of still images I was already making. It allows me to “cheat” and show multiple versions of each image practically simultaneously.

Of course, it also invites in the element of time and the illusion of motion. Time begs that the viewer meditate on the image a bit longer than if it were static. It can create a hypnotic effect that alters the way someone might physically experience the visual. Rhythm plays into this as well. I try to make my animations run on a seamless, endless loop. I want the character of the image to come to life only to tell the same story over and over. I guess it’s a sort of self contained iteration. It’s a sad state of being doomed to repeat the same action without any release. It’s the never ending same story that actually never ends.

As for glitch aesthetics, honestly, I never really thought I was venturing into that area. Though, I can see how it might be related to some of my drawings. I think of glitch work to be something that is glorifying malfunction. It’s taking a mistake that reveals the apparatus and embracing it. That, I can get on board with. I consciously attempt to often leave my drawings in a crude state, revealing the inadequacy of the computer’s representation. I like the tension that is created when something so simple, systematic and orderly (a grid of pixels) can still bend to feign a depiction of something complex, organic and chaotic.

You work under a pseudonym “out_4_pizza” in the LiveJournal community where you’ve been posting work since 2007. Many people on the web have said LiveJournal has been outmoded by sites like Facebook and Tumblr, or even more recently Google+. What makes you choose LiveJournal over other platforms for collecting and showing your work online and how did you come up with your pseudonym?

I've been asked this question before and I'm always a bit reluctant whenever it comes up because to me, this actually has very little to do with my work output. Like you pointed out, there are a number of blog-type vessels that I could use to display my work, but honestly, it was never a determined choice; at least, at the time, not a conscious one. When I started the blog in 2007, it was not my intention that I would be creating this well read Livejournal image blog and that it would someday host the mass of my work output. Quite the opposite. It was made on a casual whim for the purpose of hosting ONE measly post of found images ONE time. The title of the blog, later to become my apparent “pseudonym,” had about as much thought put into it as one puts into titling an email. In fact, I was well aware at the time that If i ever DID make a blog, I’d probably want to think a bit too much about its title before committing. So this “out_4_pizza” title was one that came to mind with explicitly little to no thought so I could easily and fittingly slap it on the one-post blog to be consumed once and forgotten. However, from there I began blogging more and found that the Livejournal format suited my posting needs. So it stuck.

So sorry to slice up everyone's pizza dreamz.



Ithaca, NY

How long have you been working creatively with technology? How did you start?
I've been using computers to make imagery for about 20 years. As far as for online public consumption: since 2007.

Describe your experience with the tools you use. How did you start using them?
It was during my young formative years that I started digitally manipulating imagery for pleasure in my spare time. Now I still find myself using the same familiar tools (Photoshop, MSpaint) but more for creating original imagery; less manipulation. Until I stop encountering inspiring facets of the software, I will probably continue to use these methods to some extent.

Where did you go to school? What did you study?
University of Rochester. I got my BA in Art History but I also thoroughly dabbled in Studio Art, Film and cognitive sciences.

What traditional media do you use, if any? Do you think your work with traditional media relates to your work with technology?
For the time being, it appears I have happily abandoned any sort of “traditional” media. However, if I can scan something, I just might use it.

What do you do for a living?
Let's just say, I sit at a desk for long hours and work on a computer.

Do you think your job relates to your art practice in a significant way?
Yes. They are one in the same.

Who are your key artistic influences?
concrete, paint, dirt, marble, carpets.

Have you collaborated with anyone in the art community on a project? With whom, and on what?
There have been fun and worthwhile attempts but nothing that has ever come to any real actualization.

Do you actively study art history?
From time to time I have epiphany-like moments of recalling things that I studied in college.

Do you read art criticism, philosophy, or critical theory?
Sure, if a certain article or subject matter catches my eye, I'll indulge.

Are there any issues around the production of, or the display/exhibition of new media art that you are concerned about?
I’m not sure I can touch upon the vast amount of work that is implied by the term “new media,” but, as far as work like my own is concerned, (ie: work that finds itself at home on the personal computer monitor,) I think there is a regular struggle with how it can be properly incorporated into the “white wall” world of the gallery. I believe that displacing it from where and how it is intended to be viewed transforms the spirit of the work. This is surely not always a bad thing, but if I really have to point my finger at any issues, there’s something.

Her first solo show, MINT SLAB MUNDO, will open this Thursday, August 25th at NP Contemporary Art Center