Throughout his 40-year career, filmmaker and video artist Charles Atlas has collaborated with key figures from a range of creative disciplines, expanding the relationships between visual art, dance, music, theater, and television. With his trilogy The Illusion of Democracy (2008–12), Atlas has abandoned the presence of human bodies in favor of numerical figures, animating a constantly expanding and contracting universe based on six digits. Casting 1 through 6 as the protagonists of these intricately choreographed video installations, Atlas pushes the limits of their "numberness" and evokes the pervasiveness of mathematical algorithms in our increasingly technologized society.
In Plato’s Alley (2008), pulsing vertical and horizontal white lines take shape as a grid populated by the ensemble, and in Painting by Numbers (2011), a sea of digits swells and subsides over six acts that culminate in a climactic finale. In 143652 (2012), bars of color slowly yet relentlessly scan back and forth, at once erasing and transforming each figure. With its methodical abstraction and politically suggestive title, the trilogy is an introspective study in order and chaos.
Gallery label from Inbox: Charles Atlas, 2017.