New York

Rachel Gellman

Computer Design Consultants

Rachel Gellman uses computer programs to generate the images in her large Cibachrome and C-prints. Gellman’s pictures are imagistic and, because of the nature of the computer’s scanning grid, they resemble very tight pointillist technique, or—because of their perfect regularity—fabric design or needlepoint.

Gellman goes in for puns; her Body/Building, 1985, depicts a body and a building. The building has a classical Greek facade, the body resembles a classical nude torso. In Brush and Variations, 1985, a series of color program variations on a basic design looks like a linoleum pattern for neo—art deco beach towels. The texture of the video grid gives them a terry cloth look; they would make handsome towels, but they convey little feeling.

Gellman’s best picture, Roofs, 1985, looks as if it would have fit in with a 1918 Vorticist or Futurist exhibition. Its dynamic arcs seem to describe a sub-utopian industrial landscape. Here the color-tuning process seems to be more selective. The colors are right; there is not a smorgasbord of color choices for a single image. This picture does not declare its computerized origins, but, again, it is not particularly inventive.

Gellman’s work suggests a broad range of image-enhancing possibilities through computer programming, but her choice of images does not provide much to be enhanced. Visual-arts softwares offer interesting techniques, but they also seem to set traps of preconception for artists. One gets the feeling that if a few more rules were broken, if the program were asked to do something its designers had not fully anticipated, more satisfying results might be obtained. Given the inherent coolness of the technology, the artist must bring some fire and soul to the keyboard, if anything more than a striking beach towel is to be the result.

Glenn O'Brien