AMBER TUTWILER
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Binary systems – light/dark, in/out, here/there – are convenient opposites, creating a mythology that is neatly, yet inaccurately, packaged. As a hybrid artist that works across figurative oil painting, sculpture, and collaborative performance, I visually describe the space where binaries meet. Like the horizon that we see when the sky meets the ocean, we can point to the moment that they converge, yet the horizon remains elusive: we cannot experience it directly. My current body of work describes the Internet as a horizon space, a space where the inside/outside duality merges into one interface.

Interfaces are designed to link our corporeal experience with non-physical information, thus creating a very real, lived experience out of an imagined space. I am concerned with how the body-self, both from within and outside of these spaces, becomes integrated into and inextricable from this voyeuristic digital melting pot. When we witness an image in our time, when or where that image took place in the photo’s time is not concise. The result of this witnessing is a displacement in reality; though the viewer is inclined to believe there is something real about what is seen in the image or video (at least at some point), the method by which this information is delivered makes the image very un-real. The image lives nowhere and everywhere simultaneously.

The definition of hyperreality is the inability to distinguish the difference between reality and a simulation of reality.  In my process, I use my own body (or the bodies of others in the case of performance) as a source, donating it to an interface where it becomes mine and not mine. This gives representation to this hyperreality while addressing that the female body has historically lived in this liminal space. My work begins with the real in a traditional sense, but through digital and analog processes, becomes a symbol and copy of itself where massive abstractions and fractures occur. Despite the fractured realism that relies on the flatness of surface and highly rendered imagery, each work has moments that break the flatness, abruptly leading the viewer back to their local experience. Recognizing the interface and calling attention to its frame through paint, material, and construction is how I break the seduction of the image. By severing that moment of intimacy, the viewer recognizes that looking is not an unbiased act. Agency goes two-ways. Every time they engage with an interface, they are touching, and touched back.

As my research progresses, I continue to notice a trend that future technologies are attempting to work at a rate that can reflect everything now. Speed (the rate to which we can acquire things and information) is a currency and power. The Internet, and other technologies such as Neuralink and CRISPR, continue to blur the line between human and machine, suggesting that the most immediate way to experience information is directly through our bodies. If we have direct access, the interface will slowly disappear, stretching our bodies and minds further into liminal and interstitial spaces.  To some degree, this is happening already with VR. As such, there are less barriers between internal thought (what we want to happen) and external representation (what actually happens). This amount of control is a new line of study in my work that is in its early phases of research and manifestation, and relies more heavily on the integration between painting surfaces, sculptural landmarks, and projection mapping.