Jason & The Technicolor Digital Art

“Using software processes of his own design, Jason Salavon generates and reconfigures masses of communal material to present new perspectives on the familiar.” Salvaon works to “[unearth] unexpected patterns in the relationship between the part and the whole, the individual and the group.” He draws inspiration from popular culture and daily routine, “his work regularly incorporates the use of common references and source material”. His works are exhibited both in the form of traditional photographs and video installations, as well as software viewable in the real-time (Artist Biography, Mark Moore Gallery).

Acquiring his degrees from University of Texas at Austin and The School of the Art Institute of Chicago by the late 90s, Salavon has combined his experiences with programming, studio art, and research to create works with vast vibrancy.

As mentioned in his TED Talk, he works with data as his “clay”, to manipulate it quite in the same way as sculpting and transform it to get to the core essence of the element and visually represent the “story of data”. By reducing visual images from pop culture, the Internet, and elsewhere, he is able to break down the content to some of the core elements while also representing that image in a new way.

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Salavon discussed in his TED Talk how he overlaid each cover girl of all of Playboy’s issues from each decade to achieve the above work Every Playboy Centerfold. This will likely be my first and last time every looking at their images, but what I find most interesting about Salavon’s compilation is that I don’t feel like I’m looking at Playboy covers at all. He made them look so beautiful, almost like something that would be found in a Roman museum or as one of those typically picturesque pieces of traditional art. I find this to be intriguing and perhaps his attempt at making a larger point about that very specific aspect of the entertainment industry, looking at the figure as a muse instead of an object. It’s especially interesting that he was able to get such beauty as a result of a process that’s very digitized, analytical, and routine. I appreciate how he’s bringing the world of art and pre-existing content and data together. He also notes how you are able to see the progression of Playboy’s cover art, how the women used to be photographed from the side or the angle and over the next forty years, turned to face the camera head on and directly. Salavon has done a few reiterations of this artistic process, like in his piece 100 Special Moments (Newlyweds). 

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Another piece of art he showcased in his TED Talk was The Top Grossing Film of All Time, 1×1. 

The worldwide top grossing film of all time (until 2010), Titanic, was digitized from video in its entirety and broken up into its constituent frames. Each of these was then averaged to a single color best representative of that frame and reformatted as a photograph mirroring the narrative sequence of the film. Reading from left-to-right and top-to-bottom, the narrative’s visual rhythm is laid out in pure color (salavon.com, The Top Grossing Film of All Time, 1×1).”

My aesthetic analysis of the piece included an appreciation for the even parts in the alternating of the blue, beige, and then blue again. It’s remarkable that that was the result when it all the frames were processed through a computer and made me consider that perhaps in the film editing process, editors are conscious of the color they choose as well as the scenes and cuts. Also, the fact that the beige color was in the middle of the ocean colors provoked an immediate sorrow in thinking about the people who are now similarly, part of that ocean. Overall, however, Salavon achieved his goal of “presenting new perspectives on the familiar”: in this case, a notably familiar movie.

Salavon’s work Shoes, Domestic Production, 1960 – 1988 is by far my favorite piece, not only because it visually pleases me but because it provides a whole new perspective on learning about statistics, history, and business. Both the still captures and the video version are remarkable beautiful, and I see potential for this visual representation of data about the fashion industry providing design inspiration to the people in it

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Overall, Salavon’s art gave me a new appreciation for data and all the different kinds of information it can provide. He provoked development of a new meaning to my thoughts around “analyzing art”.

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