Christiane Paul on Joseph Nechvatal


A completely different form of digital process is employed by artist Joseph Nechvatal (b. 1951) whose ‘computer-robotic assisted’ paintings are created by means of a viruslike program that performs a degradation and transformation of the image. After digitally composing and manipulating image elements, most notably through the transformations induced by the virus, Nechvatal transfers his files over the Internet to a remote computer-driven robotic painting machine, which executes the painting.


The artist himself is not involved in the process of painting itself, which ultimately takes place as an act of ‘telepresence’. In paintings such as vOluptuary drOid décOlletage (2001) and the birth Of the viractual (2001), parts of the (intimate) human body are intermixed with flower or fruit ornaments into a virally created collage. The hybrid image suggests an androgyny that Nechvatal traces to Ovid’s Metamorphoses, which depict transmutation as a universal principle driving the nature of the world.


Nechvatal’s paintings strive to create an interface between the biological and technological, the viral, virtual, and actual or ‘viractual’, as the artist refers to it.





Christiane Paul on Joseph Nechvatal in Digital Art (Thames & Hudson) pp.