Recollections of Stones Unturned (2016)
The Recollection of Stones Unturned is a solo exhibition of “hybrid paintings” by Yulia Pinkusevich that examine the collaboration between humans and machines in these early days of extraterrestrial exploration. Drawing upon photographs taken by autonomous robots from the Martian surface and employing the latest laser-based technologies as a tool for creating, Pinkusevich considers the position of humankind in a present in which speculative fictions are becoming technological realities—our machine-aided capabilities expanding the reach of our species in both space and time.
Central to Pinkusevich’s work is the pivotal moment in which robots—as proxies for humans—began simultaneously making photographs of and altering the terrain of Mars. The resulting images gaze back into the deep time of extraterrestrial geologies—landscapes formed over the course of eons—while the interventions look forward as the starting point of a possible future of human interplanetary colonization. These excavations into the Martian ground are echoed in the process of creating these “hybrid paintings”; Pinkusevich employs laser cutters to etch through layers of hand-applied acrylic paint, each pass revealing a new color and further resolving the image. The etched surface of the resulting works begin to take on a topographic dimension, visually paralleling the landscapes depicted. In completing the pieces by drawing over and under the paint surface with colored pastels, Pinkusevich recapitulates the human-machine authorship of the original photographs.
For many of the works on display artifact takes on a dual presence: the image itself as an artifact of contemporary technology, produced in part for the consideration of future generations; and digital artifacts evident as errors, inclusions and blank spots as a result of the many transmissions and translations that the photographic images are subjected to between exposure and painting. The binary presence of artifact speaks to the imprecise translation from technologically-produced data to human experience, and the impossibility of projecting with any clarity the future of humanity.
– Christopher Nickel