Blog 9: Jason Salavon

City (westward) 2008

American contemporary artist Jason Salavon was born in 1970 in Indiana, but grew up in Texas and is now based in Chicago. He earned his MFA at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and then received his BA from the University of Texas. Along with creating and showcasing his art, over the years Salavon has also worked as a teacher at his alma mater The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and spent numerous years working as an artist and programmer in the video game industry. Salavon is currently employed as an associate professor in the Department of Visual Arts within the Computation Institute at the University of Chicago.

Jason Salavon uses his own software processes to generate and reconfigure masses of communal material in order to present new perspectives on the familiar. He is well known for how he uses software to change pre-existing media and material in order to create entirely new pieces of art. His work typically incorporates features of art, information technology, and aspects of everyday life. In all of his work he uses these diverse features and individual elements to create a unique final product that highlights the patterns and relationships between the part and the whole. A common theme in his work is how he portrays popular culture and the day-to-day elements that individuals can recognize and relate to. He presents this theme by regularly incorporating common references and source material into his art. In a lot of cases his final compositions are frequently exhibited as art objects, like photographic prints and video installations. But in some cases, his work instead exists in a real-time software context.

With a career as extensive as his, Salavon has had his work shown in museums and galleries around the world.  Commentary and reviews of his work have appeared in publications like Artforum, Art in America, The New York Times, and WIRED. He has had prominent public and private collections shown at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago among many others.

When I started looking through his work, I found myself really enjoying his integration of everyday objects and common material into his art. The distorted, but still accurate, representation of reality in his work really intrigued me. On the surface, his representation of reality looks normal but the closer you look the more layers you find to dissect.  One example of this was his color wheel piece. At first glance, it looks normal but when you look closer you see the consistent distortion created by a collage of work that is in line with the colors of the wheel. The final product is similar to the color wheel individuals are used to seeing, but different through how it’s created, it’s warped appearance, and the individual images that become clear when you take a closer look at it. Another series of pieces of his work that I really found fascinating was his Modern Lifestyle Mandala series. What appears to be on the surface just an intricate pretty design is actually composed of “Common goods arranged in complex radial formations” (Salavon). This was another great example of how he takes pre-existing realities to create something entirely new.

All in all I think that Salavon’s work is probably some of my favorite that we’ve looked at all semester. I enjoy how he takes reality to create something new, and is able to develop new unique art from it. From videos to images to more, I felt the various platforms his work exists on really stand out and create a unique series of artwork.

Work Cited

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