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This autumn, the Whitney Museum of American Art presents ‘Test Pattern’, an exhibition that showcases the work of predominantly young and emerging artists who are questioning the ways in which we process visual information. All the works on view have entered the Museum’s permanent collection within the past four years and will be displayed in the Anne & Joel Ehrenkranz Lobby Gallery from 22 August through 1 December. The exhibition is organized by Whitney senior curatorial assistant Laura Phipps and curatorial assistant Nicholas Robbins.
The exhibition includes photographs, paintings, prints, and sculpture by more than a dozen artists, including Michele Abeles, Tauba Auerbach, Walead Beshty, Mathew Cerletty, Leslie Hewitt, Nick Mauss, Seth Price, Lucy Raven, Matt Saunders, Meredyth Sparks, and Kaari Upson. The title, ‘Test Pattern’, refers to a graphic tool used for projectors and other devices to synchronize signals for optimum colour and clarity. For this presentation, it also suggests a metaphor for how the featured artists address the manipulation of visual information and question the legibility of images.
The works in ‘Test Pattern’ demonstrate shared concerns with issues of reproduction and materiality, as well as interests in the processes of layering, obscuring, and complicating content. For example, the photographs of Walead Beshty, a Los Angeles-based photographer, bear the marks made by an airport scanner when his film passed through security. Meanwhile, Matt Saunders, an American who is based in Berlin, prints photographs from paintings he makes of movie stills, resulting in mysterious and partially obscured images. And Lucy Raven, who lives and works in California, incorporates actual test patterns for film and sound into her prints, illuminating their paradoxical nature as they are ‘images you’re not supposed to see, made to make you see better’.
As opposed to the ever-accelerating, and apparently seamless, transmission of visual information across technology, social networks, and other media, these artists seem intent on encouraging slower and more nuanced ways of looking. This exhibition underscores the Whitney’s long-standing commitment to supporting young artists early in their careers. These new additions to the Whitney’s collection attest to the generosity and commitment of the many Museum patrons who have donated artworks and supported acquisitions.
Whitney Museum of American Art
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