Michael Katz

alt_space exhibition

July 4 – August 15, 2015

Curriculum Vitae
michael katz arts on douglas | alt_space | atlantic center for the arts downtown
Artist Statement

My work combines the processes and sensibilities of painting and photography through digital technology. The images I make are inspired by the characteristics of documentary photographs and proposal renderings. Those kinds of images have practical functions such as recording a crime scene, or presenting a proposed building or product. In contrast, my source subjects are mundane with no apparent function, and for that reason they engage my imagination. I am inspired by a subject and location that will motivate me to improvise additions and deletions through painting. Sometimes I begin by making a simple drawing of the scene on location. Usually I draw from memory. Later, I go back to the scene and take digital photographs which I will manipulate with digital painting software. Instead of an assortment of traditional paint brushes, I use one digital stylus which gives me a variety of brushes available through the software menu.

Over the years, I discovered the visual lexicon and grammar of photography through making paintings of photographs using traditional paint media. I became aware of characteristics unique to photographic vision such as focus, depth of field, and the bokeh phenomenon defined as "the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light". I am using that experience to make images with the characteristics of photography but not possible with camera. I am interested in the discrepancies between direct and mediated perception and how manipulation of the mediated image can project new conceptual experiences.

My art education taught me how to use a variety of traditional painting media: egg tempera, encaustic, oil, and acrylic. I consider digital imaging software the contemporary medium for making creative images. Despite some public perception, digital painting software doesn’t know how to draw or paint anymore than a tube of oil paint or a paintbrush. However, it does offer unique ways of working not possible with traditional painting media. It allows me to make images I have never seen before and consequently could never have been photographed. I want to be surprised by a result that is explicit and having the visual acuity of a documentary photograph.

Unlike popular commercial uses of visual digital media, my intention is not to portray an ideal, inspire superstitious awe, or to trick. I have discovered the raw creative characteristics of this technologically sophisticated medium. For example, when I open a digital photograph from within the painting software, the image is, for all practical purposes, a malleable wet painting with all the possibilities that suggests. I can at any point, save the current version of my process and begin another variation without destroying the previous one. I consider my completed works as unique mono prints. They are printed with archival pigment inks on either paper or canvas.