Critics’ Picks

View of “Siebren Versteeg,” 2007.

New York

Siebren Versteeg

Max Protetch
511 West 22nd Street
February 17–March 31

In his first New York solo exhibition, Siebren Versteeg examines the state of human subjectivity as immersed in the flood of contemporary digital imagery. In As the World Turns, 2006, an animated self-portrait depicts the artist flashing notes to a webcam, each missive relaying real-time plot summaries of the soap opera As the World Turns drawn from the CBS website. The work, displayed on a monitor, presents a sardonically punning version of daily life in which the subject is locked in a virtual eternity and only able to re-present captions of a fictional TV series. Something for Everyone, 2007, a photographic triptych of a F-117 Nighthawk stealth bomber patrolling above a sea of three hundred thousand images drawn randomly from the Internet, suggests that the daily flood of visual data, no matter how randomly generated, is nonetheless enforced with severity. Similarly, 100 Years of Google Images, 2007, is a bar graph that illustrates the number of images resulting from a Google image search of every date over the last century; it depicts the number swelling dramatically during the last twenty years. The work cannily uses a contemporary index to prove that the visual flood tide is a recent invention. While much of the overtone here is that of digital purgatory—where information and the means of dissemination of imagery are laid bare—the exhibition is not without a reminder of what it is to be human within all of this. Untitled Film 3, 2007, a cell-phone photograph animated to appear as a film of a sign in a hospital, places us between the intensive care unit and the childbirth center. It is this precarious position, in critical condition but with a possibility for rebirth, that Versteeg identifies as the appropriate place to reclaim our subjectivity from Baudrillard’s totalizing regime of the hyperreality of images.