Visual Language Artist

Artist Statement

Photo courtesy of Liz Harvey.  Click the photo to view her site.

Photo courtesy of Liz Harvey. Click the photo to view her site.



My work explores the relationships between analog art and the digital with a focus on how digital technology (especially social media and crowdsourced data) has shaped our sense of time and space, ,and created an eerie sense of cultural deja vu.

Spatial Binaries, which is a series of wall sculptures that “paint” shadows across their architectural spaces. The final product is sometimes created with crowd sourced data, photographed, then shared on the internet and through social media. Additionally, these objects are created in multiples, on demand. Three, four or five of the “same” works are typically on display in different parts of the country simultaneously. In this way, physical objects closely relate to their digital image counterparts by existing everywhere and nowhere, all at once.

My Tangram series includes pre-exhibition crowd sourced opinions which act like what I refer to as the “Panera Effect” - where customers are given a menu of customizable options that they can mix and match according to their own liking. Responding to the post-industrialized world by mimicking models like Panera - I allow local and global communities to democratize my gallery spaces—at least to some extent.

My work is intended to raise certain questions: Is now different than then? Does time matter? Do originals matter more than copies in a digital world? Who gets to design artworks in an era of consumer customization?

Lately, I’ve found myself holding deep philosophical views on how we consume technology in the 21st century. Today our relationships with art exist increasingly on our phones. Think about it, massively popular installations like The Ice Cream Museum, Christo’s “oil barrel installation,” Yayoi Kusama’s “Infinity Rooms,” or Kara Walker’s “Marvelous Sugar Baby” amass enormous amounts of photographic traction. These installations, once dismantled, now survive exclusively within the digital world - each accumulating 23,000 to 109,000 online photos over a one year period. These works exist in a strange nether-space, simultaneously everywhere and yet nowhere at all.

Today, an average adult will spend over 4 hours a day on their phones - that’s about 86 hours a month and over 1,000 hours a year, which raises the question: How is our sensibility of visual culture changing while we spend one month a year on our phones? 

I believe that my work is most successful when elements of time are left behind and the light, repeating colors and shapes cultivate a feeling of “déjà vu.” This sensation hinges on a visual language that appeals to our cognitive self. Eventually, photographic remnants and online networking enables my physical objects to expand through time and culture, digitally. Moreover,  I am inspired by artists like Komar & Melamid, who used a process of surveying the community - which allows the data to guide visual information from the surrounding culture.

My fascination with early 20th century philosophy like Walter Benjamin’s, Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction and Guy Debord’s, Society of the Spectacle remain true in the 21st century. Nevertheless, we find that updating these social criticisms are essential. 

Unabridged Artist Statement - 500 words: By Nicholas Hullibarger, 2018