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Museum Link:

Source Link:

Date Minted: March 13, 2020

Artist Description: 20 minute, 1080p video of my colorways_2 algorithm. 2 hour render available upon request.

CohentheWriter’s Commentary:

Jeff Davis is a quintessential abstract artist. Scrolling through his oeuvre, it’s obvious that he does not bother too much with creative titles (items in a series are usually listed as, say, “thing 1” or “thing 2” or “thing 3,” so on and so forth) nor trivial diversions like characters and complex themes. Davis is an artist interested in color, shape, and contast. His work focuses on colors, on circles and squares, on the interactions between lines and flat surfaces. Colorways_ 2 stands alone in his collection of works as the only video therein, and the only piece to not fit within a larger series. And unlike those other pieces, it’s less an exploration of color than a demonstration of it, a look inside Davis’ process, maybe even his mind.

Remember that this is a twenty-minute looping video. Twenty minutes. In it, lines of color cascade from top of image to bottom, in different hues, with different thicknesses and placements. It is this...only this...just this...onward until the end of the loop. Colors plastered over by other colors. The juxtapositions of certain colors beside each other. The juxtaposition of thin lines with thicker ones, and no apparent overarching logic in how these lines fall. Everything seems completely random, or, if not random, then beholden to an incomprehensible internal logic. Davis says that this piece is an example of his personal color algorithm, perhaps the one responsible for his Abstract Tokens series, a much more cohesive and obvious exploration of color. But unlike those pieces, it’s unclear if Davis intended Colorways_2 to be a standalone art piece or simply a demonstration of important personal technology.

The answer doesn’t actually matter. By simply being in the Genesis Gallery, seen in a museum environment, colorways_2 takes on the characteristics of an intentional art piece. The casual observer will not see this piece in Superrare, beside a description freeing it of artistic constraints, but instead within the Gallery, a 20-minute video placed next to pieces of art with more overt intentions and themes and composition. In contrast, Colorways_2 almost seems accidental. It corrupts and destroys itself over and over again, replacing interesting and beautiful Rothko-esque compositions with darker lines, with girthy and unappealing swaths of fallen color. The casual observer will look at this piece when it starts, or will find themselves somewhere along its twenty-minute journey, and undoubtedly wonder why these colors are unfolding as they are.

While it’s impossible to answer this question, as least from our vantage as observers, we do find cohesion in certain segments of the video, momentary as they are. Scrubbing along it, you can see spots where a pattern-cum-mood emerges from the colors. Swampy greens and dark blues and browns may be disrupted by a sudden shade of scarlet, but the ensuing lines will build on that initial shift, and soon the entire frame will be reds and purples and oranges, a warmth slopped over the screen. The video never stops to emphasize these colors. There is no attempt to place import on specific spots. Neither order nor entropy are placed on a pedestal above the other. Colorways_2 is unconcerned with either, even while indulging in both. 

Is there meaning to be gleaned from this random assortment of colors? Probably not, at least in the traditional sense. Colorways seems unlikely to have some underlying commentary behind it. Abstract art, as a whole, tends to put aside matters of larger social or philosophical interest in favor of examining art itself, asking questions which only visual art can ask. How do shapes interact with each other, for instance? What do colors communicate when splattered atop themselves ala Pollock? What are the confines of a canvas, and what can be done to emphasize the interaction between subject and medium? Colorways_2, if interested in being an exploration at all, seems far more interested in this classical abstract intention than anything else.

Exploration is the key word here. In common usage, a piece “exploring” a concept leads us as analysts and observers to some conclusion about that concept. Colorways_2 is strictly exploratory, and nothing in it outwardly suggests a desire to do more than that. You could call it Art en media res, the constant creation and recreation of abstraction. Again, the piece does not move towards a zenith. Nor does it disintegrate or devolve to a point of simplicity. Despite the constant change and re-colorization, it is basically a static piece. By that I mean we are never exposed to new information. We are never presented with a codex. Colors splash atop other colors. Lines cover other lines. Sitting through this for 20 minutes, it’s more like a meditation than a learning experience. You’d have to squint very hard, and maneuver your intellect quite creatively, to find further philosophical worth here. That’s not negative. Rationality only takes us so far, up to a point, and from that point, Colorways_2 takes over. It would be defeatist, missing the point, to scour it for meaning. It demands to be only what it is and nothing more. It asks us only to see it, experience it for 20 seconds, 2 minutes, more?, and move on. It’s easy to respect a piece that seeks to be no more than what it is. And this piece is just a series of paint swatches. It’s pretty to look at, interesting to observe, calming to the eye, and content being so. Color itself does not a meaning make. It must have meaning forcibly imparted upon it.  But I ask: “Why?” Why must art mean something? Can Colorways_2 not exist exactly how it is? Is it not sufficient for a piece to just be itself? Take 20 minutes to watch the loop fully, and you’ll see that Colorways_2, regardless of if it’s anything else, can only ever be what it is. Itself, incontrovertibly and infinitely.