Digital Combines

January 08, 2022 —
March 05, 2022



Honor Fraser Gallery is pleased to present Digital Combines.

The artist Claudia Hart has appropriated the term Combines from Robert Rauschenberg to propose a new genre, the "Digital Combine," which joins a tangible object with its virtual equivalent - two halves to unite the tactile with the ephemeral. Rauschenberg's radical version of expanded painting mixed sculptural and painted elements together into a single work. In a parallel construction, Digital Combines pair a painting with a related NFT computer graphic, one that also holds the work's metadata, to create a single conceptual object. Although imagined for a series of her own paintings, Hart's concept can be applied generally, whenever artists conceive of the physical and virtual worlds as continuous.  

The exhibition includes Hart's peers Nancy Baker Cahill, Jakob LeBaron Dwight, Charlotte Kent, Tim Kent, Gretta Louw, LoVid, Sara Ludy, Daniel Temkin, and Saya Woolfalk. Their works are an assessment of our current moment, asserting a new version of authenticity - a painting for the age of the computer. Each unique work consists of a born-digital object paired with a work on wood, bound together by an NFT pointing at instructional metadata. This contract was developed by Hart in collaboration with NFT conservation specialist  Regina Harsanyi, which in its performative, legal language represents a profound ontological shift in our cultural imagination. 

Excerpt from Hart's first Digital Combine contract:

[T]he born-digital [work] can not be sold separately from the [physical work], as they are two halves of a singular whole. Sellers and purchasers will be required to share contact information, so that the tangible work can be properly transported to the new collector. Otherwise, this compromises the integrity of the work and, in the event of their separation [the artist] will no longer recognize this iteration as her own and it will not be included in her upcoming catalogue raisonne. In an inversion of platonic idealism, [the artist's] commentary interweaves the problematics of representation through virtual simulation versus the history of representation through physical embodiment.