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Pavlovian Fortress

Museum Link:

Source Link:

Date Minted: May 10, 2020

Artist Description: Dopamine paralysis for those within. Coded with JavaScript. 1400 x 1200. GIF. 23.9MB.  

CohentheWriter’s Commentary:

Luxpris is obsessed with shapes. That comes through in almost every piece he, Josh Katzenmeyer, has created. Though his newer works have adopted a three-dimensional skew to his traditional shape exploration, the overwhelming majority of the artist’s oeuvre, as well as the first 50-or-so pieces therein, take a rather rudimentary, though no less spectacular, approach to exploring shape in various environments. These are two-dimensional shapes. Paper shapes. Squares, rectangles, circles, triangles. Nothing fancy, no need. Generally, Luxpris imbues his shapes with rudimentary movement displayed in a gif format. Tiny dots twinkle like stars. Circles spin in place. Concentric loops shrink and expand, shrink and expand, shrink and expand in perpetuity. Textures crackle with TV-static life. Entire sections of a piece are given over to the crinkle-like freneticism of spinning, shifting shapes. And so, with that in mind, we come now to Pavlovian Fortress, a perhaps too-perfect distillation of the artist’s interests and sensibility, all displayed in a single piece. It’s the mesmerizing, cardboard-colored crypto art piece of your, and Luxpris’, dreams. It’s simple, it’s hypnotic, and it’s so so strangely soothing. I’ve never seen crypto art like it before. Except in Luxpris’ oeuvre. And even there, it stands out from the rest.

If for no other reason than the pleasant combination of colors, the tan of a cardboard box and a very soft, familiar black. Not the black of a dark soul or the black of an endless night. The black of a freshly-turned off television. Or the black of a finely-tailored wool suit. Warm, familiar shades of black, the homey kind you confront every day without trepidation. The entire piece is these two colors, and the various shapes which bear them. In the center area of the piece is a large, geometrically-perfect circle, and on either side of it, a small thin bar, seeming to have been laid underneath. To the left of that circle, a fascinating sequence of small circles —like the kind you’d punch-out of a cardboard punch-card— lighting up from their original tan and turning momentarily black via an unpredictable sequence. Elsewhere, the circle bulges into a clearly delineated triangle. And the only other movement in the piece takes place along the right edge of the frame, as a series of horizontal lines move endlessly downward in something like a two-dimensional escalator. The entire piece buzzes with a kind of underlying static, as if there’s something unstable about the composition, as if there’s an energy trapped underneath that’s threatening to burst through.

Which is an interesting way to approach Luxpris’ work, because regardless of their simplistic composition or not, that energy is omnipresent. Textures always seem to be a bit unsettled. It gives the appearance of each image being a stolid film placed over an unstable background, or that each image is itself in the process of breaking down.

Not breaking down as in disintegrating before our eyes, but mirroring the human body in a way. A strange comparison for a piece in which there are literally no organic figures or even references to organisms at all, but the underlying movements —too minuscule to really even quantify— creates the impression of a cellular organism, something made up of many moving parts, or at least something in which the atoms within are visible. I’m not sure if that was the artist’s intent, and the effect does also work to create an interesting and somewhat-dated filter for everything within the frame, but it nevertheless provides a baseline of movement, a baseline of energy, to an image which might otherwise be too simplistically stable. 

Not that “simplistically stable” would necessarily be a bad thing, but it would limit the potential depth on a piece that may, to some, lack that depth up-front. Pavlovian Fortress is a tour-de-force of a certain kind of decorative artwork. It’s abstract without being pushy or off-putting, and while still centering the artist’s attention to detail. There’s an undeniable kind of feng-shui within the composition of this piece, as if we’re looking down upon a well-thought-out floor-plan from above. But take away that movement, and you take away one of only a few pathways further into this piece. 

With that movement in mind, however, what does Pavlovian Fortress remind you of? Do you see a blueprint within it? Do you see old televisions and videogames: an Atari, a Nintendo, Centipede and Space Invaders? The colors help to provoke a certain time period. The movement helps to capture our attention long enough for us to be engulfed in the overall effect. 

Of the piece, Luxpris provides the following description: “Dopamine paralysis for those within.” It’s as esoteric and difficult to decipher as the piece itself. It perhaps reflects the reality that, well, Luxpris has not given us much to work with. There is no coda within this piece to guide us. In many of Luxpris’ works, overall effect stems from an immediate interaction with the piece, one that precedes logic, that precedes 800 words of analysis. I do get the sense that Luxpris has every intention of his works being experienced as opposed to analyzed. That they are meant to be felt instead of deeply pondered. This is a piece constructed of simple building blocks. And perhaps the best way to experience it is simply. Pre-thought, precognition. Just the colors, the shapes, the movement, and the way they all look together, on a screen, in a frame, on a wall. 

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