With a mix of digitally-manipulated images, video, and an immersive interactive installation, Hochman Brown creates lush, painterly images using a graphic synthesizer software program. The virtual paintings and video footage she creates here are aglow with rich pastel color, as if infused with summer sunlight reflecting and refracting the light on the sea. Backgrounds and foregrounds merge, creating chameleon-like images in flowing, beautiful digital work.
The artist explains her long-term obsession with people-watching at the beach, culled from childhood beach visits in Santa Barbara.
“Of course, I, too, am exposing myself to those who might want to ogle me, yet I do not feel as though I am being observed. I am just one of many, enjoying private moments in a very public place. At the shore, I am able to escape the many social norms that confine my behavior. It is the water and the salt air and the sand between my toes that allow me to literally and figuratively strip away my bonds and be free of the mask of daily life,” she explains. “I return to a mental space closer to my natural inclinations. In Anonymous@theBeach, I explore the paradox of seeing and being seen by the multitudes, while still maintaining a sense of privacy.”
The works evoke the paintings of Seurat or Monet, while staying entirely contemporary. Much like one’s view of the beach on a hot summer day, eyes blurry from salt water and sunscreen, these images offer a delightful impressionist experience of beach life, as well as a look at beachgoers, their figures shimmeringly camouflaged by and merged with the landscape they inhabit.
Hochman Brown’s fondness for the playful beach life she enjoyed as a child have metamorphosed to some extent into a more meditative experience, which she says was the mood from which this series originated.
“My first piece related to this series goes back to college, and was in fact a watercolor. The assignment was to create a painting with 100 figures in it. I assembled photographs from magazines to use as reference for a panoramic piece of people enjoying the seaside, interspersed with beach umbrellas,” the artist says. “This began an obsession to find better imagery to someday recreate the piece, which never happened. Over the years though, I have continued to photograph people on the beach, enjoying themselves while oblivious to my observation.”
The exhibition’s most seminal element is perhaps its interactive one [No Selfies | Use The Buddy System]. Instagram-ready, a large scale, abstracted image of a day-at-the-beach serves as a backdrop, with playful props such as a sun hat and mock cell phone, as well as physical recreations of pixilated “black out” squares and black bars. All are provided to offer participants the ability to create public images privately: recognition and anonymity both wrapped up at this blissful beach.Karen Hochman Brown at TAG Gallery: Anonymous@theBeach is the perfect summer exhibition, excerptBy Genie Davis