Mixed-Media Art Examines 'Truth in Flux'

Using various techniques and layers, Jim Morris’ exhibition dives deep into the human psyche and challenges viewers to look closer.

Here is what Maiza Hixson, Gretchen Hupfel Curator of Contemporary Art, says of “Imaging Power and Flux,” on view through April 5 at the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts. “Jim Morris uses mapping software to cull data on issues such as border disputes and the spread of violence in communities. He then manipulates, reconstructs and reconfigures this information into an abstracted visual language through drawing. Morris is interested in how information is represented in print and electronic media and how we interpret facts. His exhibition questions information as power and how truth is in flux, or a subjective negotiation of multiple memories or persistent impressions. His work visualizes the concept that what we remember as fact is an afterimage that continues to appear in one’s vision after the original image one views has ceased. Morris begins by making an ink drawing on paper, which he scans to produce a computerized image tracing or vector file of the original. Morris prints and often laser cuts the digitized drawing. In laser cutting, a focused laser beam melts, burns, vaporizes or blows away the printed material, leaving an edge with a high-quality surface finish.

Morris also prints his drawings onto layers of transparent Mylar and then hand draws over the prints in acrylic ink. In several works, he creates a base layer of found pages of a book—on banking deregulation, for example. Layering the laser-printed imagery over official documents, Morris creates collaged, mixed-media works that emphasize the idea of transparency and obfuscation of information. The artist’s formal compositions function as psychological maps devoid of straightforward meaning. Black blocks of ink overlay charts of U.S. Bank claims, borders are drawn, and scrambled lines appear superimposed over what we discern as dollar signs and page numbers. Some of the images are pixilated, reflecting Morris’s concept of how decomposing data corresponds to ideas of memory and forgetting. Morris states that, ‘We are bombarded with information that articulates the structure of different types of power.’ Information regarding military action and disease may be diagrammed, but the rate at which it changes, makes it difficult to quantify. As consumers of information in the digital age, we often download more ambiguity than truth. Morris reframes the idea of concrete data as a visual illusion. In his work, this notion is underscored by the fact that we are not sure what we are looking at, and this lack of concrete meaning forces us to look harder.” It’s the kind of stuff that makes the DCCA ever intriguing. thedcca.org

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