Essay2 By calling itself a painting, Plugged-in Paintings each work presents a door to a whole history. To enter is to see the future.

Petra Cortright was among the first multimedia artists seen peering into a webcam in videos posted on YouTube, mimicking the experience of the viewer on the other side of the screen. She sold her work for the first time in 2008 at Dallas gallery And/Or. Cortright’s remarkable success as a post-internet, feminist artist who engages with social issues has been supported by critics and the market. Her work appeared in Paddles On!, the first digital art auction by a major auction house.

It is both curious and fitting her contribution to the exhibition is the most painterly. The triptych Wrestling Entrance Themes_smoke+the_weed+mp3 is part of a series based on a grey sea landscape. While Cortright is known to disassemble pointed images for her impressionistic body of digital paintings, this time the images simply depict flowers and water. Errant lines pull motion downward in a rose-and-sage fantasy of nature and rest.

Artist John Pomara began experimenting with scanners in the late ‘80s, inspired by the concept of painting’s demise in the essays of Endgame: Reference and Simulation in Recent Painting and Sculpture, 1986.

Pomara made a ritual of applying oil paint atop the patterns of heavily glitched digital photographs. His contribution to the exhibition features no paint. The subject of Red Alert is a stranger’s nude self-portrait as posted on Instagram in black-and-white. After using glitch techniques to make the image unrecognizable and running the canvas through a printer multiple times to manipulate it further, Pomara offers with the blessing of the source image’s subject a bold color version in UV ink that keeps her form an open secret.

Dean Terry’s provocative Suburban White Woman #1 is his return to 2D art after almost three decades. Terry expresses political outrage through his obsession with methods of surveillance and frustration over technology. “I’m playing White Guy Yelling At His T.V. From The Couch,” Terry writes on his website to preface the piece. The layers of Suburban White Woman #1 are made with camera angles and lenses — photographs of photographs. The artist imagines the woman is now less certain of her political allegiance, but for all his searching studies of her expression, he can’t be sure.

Chris Dorland alludes to vulnerability in technology with Untitled (Apache Struts). The title’s reference to a hopeful, free, open-source system for making web apps carries the context of its downfall: a glitch that hackers can easily exploit. Dorland’s chaotic process yields an almost musical series of repeated lines and forms like visual algorithms.

On the Painting as a Fantasy Liz Trosper is a careful investigator, fundamentally interested in the texture of elemental, physical art materials. She translates the feel and touch of studio process for the digital world. Squeezes of acrylic paint in Accumulation 2 create a desire in the viewer to participate. There is a sense of beginning, of infinite possibility: a background hue evokes cardboard, situating the viewer at the first gate of artmaking when materials arrive in the mail. The limits of 2D media are reinforced when the viewer can witness what is unfinished and marvel at pure color.

The religiosity of minimalism doesn’t work for Zeke Williams, whose collage-like digital works are too playful to fall into that tradition and too experimental to be considered graphic design, even though he uses tools like Adobe Illustrator which are traditional for an industrialized image-maker. The stripes you see in Klymene are emblematic of his design, and the patterns repeat across his entire body of work.

Lucas Martell is the only artist in the exhibition who calls themself a traditional painter. He adopted a new way of working to make Light Weight. Scavenging for mundane, small objects to photograph and feed to Photoshop, he began to see himself as an extractor -- where painting with watercolor, for example, had been a kind of push, the modes required for digital painting were a pull. The result evokes arid earth and primitive sculpture, punctuated with an image of one die like a souvenir of this experiment.

The land peeks out again with incidental woodgrain patterns in Matthew Choberka’s Sounding Board. As an analog painter from the Studio School in New York, he picked up a tablet and the painting app Procreate first as a kind of mobile painting studio. His iPad setup investigated color while he was traveling. Later when he tried the Apple pencil, his practice began to shift. Choberka’s artwork carries a sense of humor about coming to digital tools from New York School traditions, referencing a desire to connect which permeates all his work.

Lorraine Tady uses dream logic to make maps that express the motion of specific places and how she remembers traveling through them. Frequency Piccadilly Circus is made of tactile dry point monotypes whose parts she re-images and re-appropriates. In this way Tady makes a place for analog printing in digital paintings and shows their similarities in layers and process. In this piece, London’s public transportation and the Thames river walkway are treasured with a grid. The orange strokes stand for the so-colored poles in Piccadilly Circus tube station.

For all the ways painting has been decentralized in studio art, its integration as a method or symbol to serve other mediums keeps it relevant. “To be modern is to know that which is not possible anymore.” Yve-Alain Bois attributed this quotation to Roland Barthes in his essay “Painting: The Task Of Mourning.” The original text source remains elusive. Another idea appropriated, another assumed end punctuated by possibility. The gesture is a loop.

Lyndsay Knecht, arts writer