William A. Brown’s experimental work is about art and the photographic image. His videos try to be a hybrid form using conventions from still photography and motion pictures. His current work, virtual proposals for paintings (Paintings for a Robot), are “pre-painting digital photographs” designed to be rendered by painting robotic devices when they are perfected. Mr. Brown firmly believes paintings and photography will merge into a single medium of expression where cameras and computers are used to create outputs that can be rendered as any two-dimensional media, including archival paintings. His photo-sculpture proposals are virtual constructions of public artworks made from video and photographic sources. Mr. Brown has been making still photographs and experimental videos since the 1970s and has always managed to have work shown at festivals and art exhibits, receive grants, had work installed in a permanent installation, kept a teaching position at Emory University and consistently put out new works. Starting in the 1990s he became interested in is exploring slow-motion studies of street scenes. He describes these as somewhere between the still photography and motion pictures. These videos were designed to be played on a flat wall screen in an architectural setting. Mr. Brown believes he was one of the first artists to show a flat-screen experimental video, certainly one of the first in the South. Informed by both street photography and avant-garde cinema, these video works reveal unseen details of the quotidian world of people in public places and events.
Virtual Paintings for a Robot: The Merging of Photography and Painting
I take the idea of being a multi-media artist seriously, perhaps to an extreme level. I’m mainly known as a video artist but have always taken still photographs. In the past few decades, I’ve also been producing virtual works of sculpture (with one realized example). In 2019 I stumbled upon a way of creating paintings that are designed to be created by robots in the near future.
I amuse myself with many conceits but I have a particular fondness for my importance as an artist with a track record for serious explorations that push the boundaries of what exactly defines painting, video, and sculpture is this era of exponential technological change. With painting, I’m trying to find new digital solutions for the coming era of painting by robots. With sculpture I’m proposing incorporating photography as source material for public art, believing the realistic imperative of the lensed image will make public sculpture relevant. With video, I’m trying to shoot as if I’m a still documentary photographer but shooting slow-motion video. Blurring definitions of what painting, sculpture, and video can be is my mission as an artist.
Note about the submitted project: A lot of art gatekeepers complain that my Virtual Paintings Project seems “style-less”. That’s the point of my strategy where I randomly combine images from multiple sources as first posited by John Cage. Painters have long claimed to have been influenced by John Cage, but by using film editing technology to create thousands of mixed images, I have expanded the possibilities of this art strategy beyond what traditional painters can achieve.
To view more of Willam Brown’s work please visit their website.