Nicholas McCumber

Don Archer, MOCA director, writes:

Nicholas McCumber has mapped his own artistic journey. I go through thousands of digital images a year as director of the Museum of Computer Art but I can assert unconditionally that there is no art quite like Nicholas McCumber's "digits". That's what he calls his finished art. It is assembled from "clues".

McCumber is a mystic and an ironist. He carries a camera around with him. He knows photography. He is an expert photographer. His photos become "clues." He will take a photo of almost anything, but what we see in his "clues" are mostly photos of landscapes, nude women, tree forms, rocks, birds, sky. We see these photos invariably as three fingernail images, perhaps 100 pixels wide by 75 pixels high, embedded (usually on the margins) of his finished art. The irony is that these are gloriously realistic images, sharply composed with pure technological competence. It is the way that he layers these "clues" into a finished full-sized "digit" that gives him purchase as an ironist.

The "digit" is an overlay of three images, presumably accomplished in Photoshop. The genius may be in the strength he gives to each of the "clues". He has, of course, wide lattitude here, and one "clue" or another may predominate, or each clue given equal strength. It is not for us to determine. It is the result that counts: an overlay or super-imposition of three images in which the character of each is lost as a new character emerges. It is this character that defines his art, the antithesis of what we commonly recognize as reality. Call this "digit" what you will: mystical, other-worldly, a raid on the subconscious, or a "joumey on the soul plane," as the artist says. Meanwhile, the "clues" remain on the "digits" as fingernails, reminders of how the journey originated.

Nicholas McCumber's AutoGallery 2011 exhibit

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