Captives is an exhibition by the London based Italian artist Quayola. Taking their cue from Michelangelo Buonarroti’s Prigoni (1513-1534) series of ‘unfinished’ sculptures, the featured works explore the relationship between model and object, virtual and material form.
Quayola’s newest exhibition explores modes of objecthood that traverse virtual and real space. The exhibition title references the best known of all unfinished sculptures, with the artist’s digitally conditioned re-presentations of Michelangelo’s Prigoni staging a tension between completion and process. Though redeploying historical works, Captives foregrounds a series of contemporary shifts between mathematical and figurative description, situating objecthood upon a continuum lacking a natural beginning or end.
Prior to Captives, Quayola’s engagement with art historical precursors has taken the form of projections, installations, photography and multimedia. Such works have frequently employed up to date digital tools to discern the visual algorithms implicit in old master works, highlighting their compositional logic. In so doing, the artist has delivered the rule-seeking enterprise of classical aesthetics unto its mechanical apotheosis.
With Captives Quayola makes his first foray into sculpture, employing custom software to construct three-dimensional virtual models of various Prigoni out of numerous two-dimensional photographs. In addition, missing or unintelligble data was automatically supplied by the program’s algorithm – resulting in the appending of crystalline geometric volumes to the figures. The artificially ‘finished’ digital models then became the basis for a robotic milling process which recovered these forms from three outsize blocks of high-density polystyrene.
The collapse of physicality into information – along with our redefined notions of place – means that an object can be distributed throughout various modes of space and time simultaneously. The distinction between the model for a sculpture and the sculpture itself is increasingly vague. The age of relations between discrete entities is passing, and a practice that foregrounds the continuum is emerging. For Quayola, the subject of Captives is not the final sculpture, but the material-informatic process; a process that may be slowed down but never completed.
Artworks courtesy of bitforms gallery nyc