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SOLO SHOW: Shadow Knowledge (2020)

︎ Solo show at SJSU art galleries (3th of March - THE END OF COVID TIME 2020) 
Publication: Beyond Resolution
Works: Whiteout, Unresolved, 365 perfect decalibration, Les Inconnues.


It is often said that all we have is the past to train with. I believe there is truth to that. But some importance also lies in our contemporary state. To engage with contemporary digital culture means to be able to formulate a sharp and critical point of view, which involves analysis and active change through critical thought processes, such as speculation. Uncovering and studying these spaces of speculation is of vital importance.   

What is ultimately necessary for this, is Shadow Knowledge: in the shadows, things lack definition. In the shadows we can find objects of unsupported dimension and scale, ambiguous and fluid. The shadows are blurry and liminal, but ultimately potent spaces that can exist between what is enlightened and opaque (or black boxed).

Shadows offer shady outlines, that can function either as a vector of progress or a paint by numbers. In the shadows we can rest, heal and recalibrate. Now is not the time to hope or fear. It is the time to look for new weapons. The future lies in the shadows of our present.

In Shadow Knowledge, Menkman presents four recent bodies of work, which explore the experience of lack and loss through oversaturation. Throughout, Menkman explores what she terms “Shadow Knowledge,” the blurry and liminal, but ultimately potent space that can exist between the enlightened and the opaque, derived from objects of unsupported dimension and scale.


︎ VIDEO WALKTHROUGH
︎ PHOTO DOCUMENTATION

Pressrelease from the SJSU website
The Natalie and James Thompson Art Gallery is pleased to present the work of digital media artist Rosa Menkman in a solo exhibition that will open on March 3, on display through May 20, 2020.

Born in 1983 in Arnhem, Netherlands, artist and researcher Rosa Menkman has worked extensively on pushing the boundaries of technology through the exploration of glitches, compressions, encoding, and other feedback artifacts that are accidentally produced in analogue and digital media.

Menkman’s career has been defined by a strong basis in research, and her artistic and curatorial projects have often been accompanied by publications. In 2010, Menkman published the Glitch Studies Manifesto, in which she laid out eight statements on understanding and working with glitch. The seminal one being that one must start by accepting the inevitability of such errors. “Acknowledge that although the constant search for complete transparency brings newer, ‘better’ media, every one of these improved techniques will always possess their own inherent fingerprints of imperfection,” wrote Menkman. In 2011, Menkman published Glitch Moment/um, which explores the growing field of glitch art and examines it through critical, technical and cultural lenses, before considering the possibilities of a glitch art genre.

In 2019, Menkman received the prestigious Collide International/Barcelona award and residency from CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research for her proposal “Shadow Knowledge”. As an artist fellow at CERN, Menkman works in dialogue with the scientists at the organization’s particle accelerator facilities. This opportunity has given Menkman the chance to deepen her research in resolutions, especially from the perspective of scale.

Shadow Knowledge presents three recent bodies of work. In the video projection Whiteout, Menkman explores a personal anecdote, the true story of a mountain hike in a snowstorm. As Menkman made her way up the mountain, she noted not only her physical sensations: inability to see, hear, or orient herself, but also the oversaturation of the environment, the realization that spatial dimension was seemingly wiped out.

In Pique Nique pour les Inconnues, Menkman considers the ways in which the history of technology has been defined by standardization, in particular through the use of color test cards of image processing. The work presents les Inconnues – unknown women whose images are linked to the history of image processing. In this work, test card holders, bots, virtual assistants, stock photos and others find a voice, but fail to recover their personhood. As Menkman states, “Engineers used these female objects to evaluate the quality of image processing, rendering and composition of architecture and to make these latent spaces more amicable. While these women seem to be able to prolong their existence for as long as the (digital) realms will copy and reuse them, most of them have lost their name and identity.” In this work, the viewer is haunted by the familiarity of these digital ghosts, while at the same time, privy to an uncanny experience when the historically mute images speak for the first time.

In 365 Perfect, Menkman turns to mobile imaging softwares. 365 Perfect is “the best FREE virtual makeup app, period. It’s like having a glam squad in your pocket” – or so states the software. In this humorous, yet discomforting work, Menkman layers the standard features of beautifying software on her own image, enlarging her eyes, deleting blemishes and enhancing features, until the original face is nearly unrecognizable. Over and over, Menkman alters her likeness, seemingly to make herself appear more conventionally beautiful and more “perfect”. Saving her image at every new iteration, she arrives at a re-compressed pixelated JPEG, and a grotesque, if not almost unhuman self-portrait. Presented at the Natalie and James Thompson Gallery in the form of prints, 365 Perfect is not only a powerful commentary on the relationship between mobile technology and the beauty industry, but a careful exploration of resolution loss, and the visual artifacts that are created as a result.

In conjunction with the opening of the exhibition, Rosa Menkman will present an illustrated lecture 5:00pm – 6:00pm the evening of March 3, 2020, just prior to the opening reception, 6:00pm-7:30pm.

I would like to extend my appreciation to Rosa Menkman, Andrew Blanton, Assistant Professor and Area Coordinator at San José State University, and curator Aaron Wilder for their help with this exhibition.

Alena Sauzade

LOCATION: Natalie and James Thompson Art Gallery, Art Building, San José State University
(Near 9th / San Carlos Streets)
EXHIBITION DATES: March 3, 2020 – May 15, 2020





Beyond Resolution (2020)

Published on the occaision of my solo show at SJSU art galleries (3th of March - May 15th 2020): Shadow Knowledge but also comprising work from 2 earlier solo shows (institutions of Resolution Disputes, 2015, and Behind White Shadows, 2017). Beyond Resolution is downloadable as pdf here
Menkman, Rosa. Beyond Resolution (i.R.D.: 2020).
ISBN: 978-90-828273-0-9


In Beyond Resolution, Menkman insists on an extended formulation of resolution. A resolution is not just a trade-off between settings that manage speed and functionality, while considering materials affordances.
A resolution also always involves the inherent compromise of other ways of rendering. It is through these other ways - the alternative but not implemented resolutions - that we need to train to see, run and formulate our alternatives. With the example of the genealogy of the color test cards, Menkman offers an exemplary way to make such latent and biased power structures more apparent.

In Beyond Resolution, Menkman insists that these standard images, trapped in the histories of our technologies, become part of the public domain. In order to illuminate the white shadows that govern the outcomes of our image processing technologies, we must document the genealogies of standardization. These genealogies belong in high school textbooks: the latent violence coded within such norms should be studied as part of standard curricula to inform a future generation of engineers of compromises made in the past.

This independently published book consists of a collection of different types of texts ranging from short stories to an introduction into basic optics and a manifesto like text.

The publication is accompanied by a collection of artworks that Menkman developed during a triptych of solo shows (institution of Resolution Disputes, Behind White Shadows and Shadow Knowledge), all geared towards introducing and developing the concept: "Resolution Studies".



Unresolved (2020)




64 meters, data file on hardware
Inspired by the 2011 works “Beyond Yes and No” and “29 PARALLEL STRIPES”, by glitch artist Beflix, Unresolved explores an alternative method of painting data.
Using a bitmap image, Menkman followed the linear organization of pixelelated data: in a BMP file, the image data (luminocity and chrominance) is encoded pixel by pixel, in a linear fashion, one after the other.
In Unresolved, every pixel or point of data is painted on a 64 meter long canvas strip, and then mounted on a frame.
When hung correctly, unrolled over hardware with the right dimensions, Unresolved displays a double sided image - on one side Menkmans portrait, and on the other side a message in DCT (Menkman’s cryptographic tool from 2015): BEYONDRESOLUTION. 
Through this work, Menkman presents the ways in which a bitmap file, when ‘opened’ on different hardware, can create alternate modes of reading and seeing: the hardware defines what is perceived.
some images of the making of: 32 stripes of canvas were encoded, sewn into a very long strip, and painted.







365 Perfect Decalibration (2019-2020)

A set of five, one of a kind archival prints. Every print comes with embedded Artivive AR video. The prints are embedded in a custom build list of wood, with custom extrusion per test target. 
365 Perfect Decalibration is an exploration in beautifying software.

1. Decalibrated Self portrait with USAF1951 Resolution test Tri-bars [46 x 58 cm including black square]
2. Decalibrated Self portrait with quarter Siemens Star and DIY Test Resolution Target for Pixel Resolution [39 x 45 cm with extruding DIY Test Resolution Target]
3. Decalibrated Self portrait with Facial Recognition crosshair [47 x 38 cm including extruding crosshair]
4. Decalibrated Self portrait with Ronchigrams for mirror curvature testing [45 x 58 cm including Ronchigrams]
5. Decalibrated Ariane Shutterstock model with Modulation Transfer Function Tests, Fitz Patrick Scale, Discrete Cosine Transform and Quadrant Pattern registration marks [41 x 37 cm including extruding Modulating Transfer Function Test]
Measurements approximate and do not include custom build list


(please download the Artivive app to see AR  content)
In 365 Perfect, Menkman turns to mobile imaging softwares. 365 Perfect is “the best FREE virtual makeup app, period. It’s like having a glam squad in your pocket” - or so states the software.

The options in the app include virtual photo make-up, which has filters such as ‘delete blemishes’, or ‘brighten and soften skin’. It can also deepen the smile, put lipstick or even lip tatoos, enlarge the eyes and make the face slimmer, lift the cheeks, enhance the nose, or resize the lips. And lets not forget to whiten the teeth, add eyelashes, eye liner and eyebrows and finally change the hairstyle.

“I used the app to make myself perfect. not once, not twice, but hundreds of times over, one year long perfection. If everyday I could get just one shade lighter, slimmer cheeks or bigger eyes... how beautiful would I become? By re-saving my newly beautified face every iteration, the artifacts of a re-compressed JPEG and the absurdity of our beautifying standards are amplified incrementally.” 

In this humorous, yet discomforting work, Menkman layers the standard features of beautifying software on her own image, enlarging her eyes, deleting blemishes and enhancing features, until the original face is nearly unrecognizable. Over and over, Menkman alters her likeness, seemingly to make herself appear more conventionally beautiful and more “perfect”. Saving her image at every new iteration, she arrives at a re-compressed pixelated JPEG, and a grotesque, if not almost unhuman self-portrait. Presented at the Natalie and James Thompson Gallery in the form of prints, 365 Perfect is not only a powerful commentary on the relationship between mobile technology and the beauty industry, but a careful exploration of generation loss, and the visual artifacts that are created as a result.