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Scott Horsley

ARTIST STATEMENT: March of Progress

My work looks at how technologies at every age of human civilization exert control, loudly or subtly, over human choices. As inventors, we assume a nonreciprocal relationship of control over our technologies. For example, we sometimes mistakenly believe that photography frames our memories and experiences in a pure medium; however, the camera’s mechanical limits create a product of finite possibilities that alters our relationship with our memories and channels our experience with the world. To risk imbuing cameras with agency, I wonder in what other ways they exert their quiet influence over us. If it is true, as Vilém Flusser suggests, that in taking photographs, we fulfill the camera's calling that every possible picture eventually be taken, can the same be said about Drawing? About Painting?

My other current paintings and drawings also incorporate these references to technology, history, and the future, reflected in images of our most pressing anxieties and desires. Motifs of military and consumer culture, news events, and economic/environmental collapse appear alongside faceless spectators, junk foods, revelry and the ubiquitous eyes of cameras.

In my newer work, Islamic geometric patterns, (an early abstract homage to the divine) pair with imagined, hallucinogenic depictions of the jet engines and rockets that have permanently changed the way we relate spatially to our place and planet. These ecstatic rocket images nestle alongside drawings of the recent explosion of an unmanned Antares rocket.

Technically, the paintings and drawings are a jangle of rendering styles from mechanical illustration and visual communication drawing. Exploded diagrams, scientific-style illustrations, isometric projections, engineering schematics, geometric patterns and rendering that directly references photography, create a dissonance that echoes the interplay of eras and technologies.

But it’s not only in the lofty human themes, like exploration and discovery, in which our technologies slip the bond of our intentions. My 2017 show at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art focused on a more subtle and personal way in which even an essential act like feeding our families jangles violently against the ways we communicate information to each other.


ARTIST STATEMENT: I Learned it from Watching You

I learned from a documentary that some of the first tools that humans taught each other to make were stone spear-tips. Did you know that too? The earliest spear-tips predate spoken language. People taught each other to use them to hunt food and to fight each other.

Later: spoken languages Later: written words Later: books

Later: instructional videos

When my son was born, we received a pressure cooker as a gift. ‘Use it to jar your homemade baby food.’ It came with instructions. We learned how to use the tool to make family food. Later, a pressure cooker was used to make a bomb in Boston. Then they were bombs in New York.

It sat on our stove, suspect, making beans.

I have seen videos that teach you how to cook with pressure cookers. Rice, Lentils, Salmon. I learned from a news report that the bomb-makers watched instructional videos from an online magazine.

That reminds me of when I was younger and heard about a book called The Anarchist Cookbook. No one I knew had ever actually seen it, but people told me that it was full of dangerous information. I heard that the person who wrote that cookbook changed his mind and fought to get the publisher to stop circulating it— to erase that information. Look it up on Amazon.

I learned that there is Dangerous Information. There are Secret Family Recipes. Uncommon Knowledge. The tools that nourish also destroy. I learned it from watching you.

Paintings and drawings in this portfolio have been exhibited in San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Chicago and Miami.


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