Evan Jenkins grew up in Southern California in a coastal town outside of Los Angeles. He moved to Chicago in 2006 where he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He graduated in 2010 at the height of the Great Recession with a heavy load of student debt. Due to the short supply of arts-related jobs at the time, he has held jobs ranging from furniture moving to high end art installation and photo assisting. This range of experiences developed into a critical perspective on the globalized economy and culture in the digital age, and is a driving force in his current work.
You've Been Duplicated
Photography bears a historically long-standing fondness for romantic representations of Nature. Whether through the idyllic and spiritual works of early landscape photographers or via later movements such as New Topographics, image makers have sought to both depict the uplifting and regenerative forces of nature while also presenting a critique and cautionary tale about encroaching civilization. The affirming view of Nature as simplified, regenerative, and restorative relies solely on its contrast to the crowded, bureaucratic, data-laden, capitalist realities of the human world. In the current age of digital totality however, this oppositional rigidity begins to collapse in on itself. Take for example: a relaxing camping getaway that relies on Google for mapping; an app with user reviews for determining which area has the best natural features; a website for competitive camping reservations; and a bluetooth speaker for fireside entertainment, under a starry night sky criss-crossed by glowing satellites. Similarly, observe the near-tangibility of the "natural world" when streaming the BBC's Planet Earth in 4K High Definition from the domestic comfort of a living room sofa. As the conceptually exclusive realms of "Natural" and "Manufactured" bleed into one another at an increasingly ferocious pace, an emerging equivalence poses new challenges to how humans experience and define the world around them. You've Been Duplicated is a visual genealogy of the cultural forces that have blurred the lines between nature and technology, autonomy and heteronomy.
Photographically, this project observes the center of this Venn diagram where the two traditionally opposed worlds become interdependent. A portion of the images were created by locating existing scenes that highlight this merging (i.e the image of an alligator's tail blending into the floral motif of an industrially-produced hotel carpet.) These observations are supplemented with studio-based works that borrow loaded symbols for human identity or employ the visual language of advertising to discuss the liminal status of Subjectivity in the internet age.
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