Ken Okiishi gesture/data 2014

  • MoMA, Floor 2, 201

During a visit to MoMA in 2014, Okiishi was inspired by viewing Wood, Wind, No Tuba (1980), a large-scale painting by Joan Mitchell. As he photographed the work with his phone, Okiishi was intrigued by the transformation of the canvas’s physical presence into a portable field of pixels. In gesture/data the artist combines painting and video, applying paint directly onto the surfaces of monitors that play home recordings of late 1990s and early 2000s television. For Okiishi, these broadcasts “serve as underpaintings that loop continuously behind expressionist brushwork,” suggesting connections between gestural painting and the swipes and taps through which we access digital images today.

Gallery label from 2023
Additional text

Have you ever noticed fingerprints left behind on touch screens? They reveal swiping, pinching, and tapping movements, which inspired artist Ken Okiishi. He painted TV screens to show how brushstrokes might look like traces of these motions. As he painted, the screens played a video he made. Look at the brushstrokes and see if you can copy his gestures with your hands.

Can you find the other painting in this gallery with similar brushstrokes? It’s by the artist Joan Mitchell. When Okiishi saw a different work by her at MoMA, he decided to make something like it.

Kids label from 2023

By repurposing methods of television, cinema, and video production, Ken Okiishi's work responds to the migration of images, information, and language in a world increasingly reshaped by digital media.

gesture/data combines video recordings with painting to create hybrid image-objects suspended between analog and digital technologies. The artist was inspired by viewing Wood, Wind, No Tuba (1980), an abstract painting by Joan Mitchell (American, 1925-1992), in MoMA's Agnes Gund Garden Lobby. As he photographed the painting with his iPhone, Okiishi was fascinated by the transformation of its original scale and physical presence into a small, portable field of glowing pixels and code. Okiishi paints directly onto the surfaces of flat-screen monitors that play mash-ups of 1990s VHS home recordings of sitcoms and advertisements partially recorded over with sequences from new, digitally broadcast television. gesture/data playfully suggests connections between the physical traces of gestural painting and the swipes, taps, and pinches through which we now access digital images, subject to infinite redistribution.

Gallery label from Cut to Swipe, October 11, 2014–March 22, 2015
Oil and chroma key video paint, two LCD monitors, and two-channel standard- and high-definition video (color, sound; varying durations)
Left screen: 12:21 min. Right screen: 75:13 min.
Gift of Jill and Peter Kraus, 2014
Object number
© 2024 Ken Okiishi
Media and Performance

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