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Inner Search

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Date Minted:  December 16, 2020

Artist Description: The inner search is not on the web history. Maybe our existence is based on our ‘online’ data nowadays, but no one can know better than ourselves, all the journey we do inside. Video / Motion Design. Gif format.

CohentheWriter’s Commentary:

A. L. Crego walks comfortably in the midpoint between the stillness of the picture and the continuous but condemned to an end frames of the film. This self-taught digital artisan, utilizes impressive loops to directly represent his very own mental images in gif format generating an hypnotic visual mantra.” This is how Crego describes himself in his bio on MakersPlace, with his collection of works on that platform certainly backing up his boasts. Often utilizing the gif format to nuclear fusion effect —creating an endless artwork without clear beginning or end; self-perpetuating is perhaps a better descriptor— many of Crego’s artworks seem to be rebelling against the fact that they are captured within the frame, set on an infinite loop, trapped. Inner Search is perhaps the most harrowing example of such a phenomenon within Crego’s works, but it nevertheless demonstrates the same keen eye for color contrast, evocative framing, and perpetuity that makes the artist’s entire oeuvre inimitable. Inner Search is, however, a bit darker, more frightening, and, dare I even say, hopeless than much of the artist’s work. Crego often creates with a kind of whimsy, something that’s quite obvious in the work he does with colors, or in his series of pieces that place and animate murals on the sides of nondescript buildings. Inner Search is entirely without whimsy. To someone afraid of the ocean like me, it’s overwhelmingly frightening. It’s, from some perspectives, a nightmare: The impossibility of overcoming a rip tide. But yes, at times, Crego proves capable of such ghastly images in addition to his many lighthearted and cartoonish creations. It’s in that contrast that we see the artist’s true capabilities.

Contrast is a good place to start, and not just for Inner Search but for the whole of Crego’s oeuvre. It’s easy to see his dynamic contrasts when the artist is working in black and white, when there are, for instance, shadowy figures cast in a black silhouette but with two gleaming white eyes, jewels cast in a deathly pallor. Or when Crego works with TV static. Or here, where an endless ocean of black liquid is splashed through by a black figure —their almost appearing to be molded out of sex shop latex. Only the splashing water, kicked up in the figure’s strokes, provides an antidote to the darkness, is hewn in bright white hues, similar to the wave caps of the water as the current bears it by. But that same contrast exists even in Crego’s less serious works, like the contrast between a relatively innocuous suburban or urban setting and the bright, cartoonish artwork —a pirate, a robot, a large mushroom— which he sets down on its surface. And even in Inner Search, there’s a deeper contrast outside of the aesthetics. It’s a contrast between reality and expectations, or rather, between what exists permanently within the frame and what is brought to it by each observer. I, for instance, with my oceanic terror, bring that terror to the piece, and I place it over Inner Search like a filter. I have a friend who runs Iron Man races, regularly swimming multiple miles, who might bring his love of open water to this piece instead, and find in it a kind of freedom. 

I also want to point out that, when looking at this piece for quite awhile, it takes on a dizzying quality.  I believe it is human nature to see this piece and want to order it based on rationality; clearly, by that logic, it seems to be a person swimming forward, and we are watching from above them, a drone’s-eye view. But the longer one looks at this piece, the more the composition warps your expectations. You stare at it for a while, and we become unsure if the person is swimming forward. Could they be swimming upward? Might this not be the slow current of a flat ocean but the descending deluge of a waterfall? Is this person swimming upward endlessly? Now onto the waves themselves, passing the swimmer by. Well, the longer we look at them, the less they seem like ocean waves and the more they seem like digital objects themselves, like radio-waves or something off the cover of Unknown Pleasures by Joy Division. It’s not that the piece itself unravels as we look at it, but our immediate understanding of it does. We at first imagine it complete and easy to understanding, but it thwarts us with its own quietly confounding compositional techniques. Only after lengthy examination does that composition unpack and unspool. And once that happens, it’s hard to repackage the piece with its previous characteristics. For instance, I can see now (at least I think I do) that it’s not the swimmer who is churning through the water, but the water moving around the swimmer while they stroke in place. All the “movement” previously imagined is, perhaps, an illusion borne out of the composition itself. And thus, we discover even another contrast, that between what we once saw and what we see now. And so Crego plays not just on composition, but on chronology. It’s a piece that changes without ever changing, that moves without ever going anywhere. 

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