Emerged during the 1990s, the term “Big Data” commonly refers to the sets of data too large or complex to be handled by traditional data processing software. Nowadays, when analysis of vast quantities of data can be performed by personal computers, Big Data is noteworthy not so much because of its size, but of its relationship to other kinds of data. Its value is in the profound and expansive connections that derive into patterns correspondent to all sorts of daily activity, from counting steps in a walk to the storage of everyday, high-quality photographs. In other words, those computing patterns delineate and weave together our current social tissue.
Felipe Pantone’s work starts with the visual language that has accompanied the naturalization of digital communications in our time, exposing, largely, the subsoil of contemporary visual culture. The glitch, iridescence, or distortion are important components in this language, inasmuch as they evidence how it is that computing patterns acquire meaning; Big Data is not a linear accumulation of data, but a collage, an assemblage, an expansive kinetic network that reacts to our every act, connecting our individual clicks with massive statistics used to give new shapes to social tissues.
Through the combination of analogous media (such as spray paint) with sophisticated printing methods, Pantone has achieved to produce images that stand out even amidst the fragmentary visual traffic of contemporary cities. As cuts in the tissue, his works function like windows towards the underlying logics that direct our sight: towards certain buttons in the web that we manage to identify as safe, towards certain chromatic range that satisfies the eye when adjusting a screen, towards the order that makes a web-page’s design intelligible… and so on and so forth.
Optichromie is a series in which Pantone explores the visual effects produced by the clash of intensified colors and techniques rooted upon kinetic and op art. The compositions juxtapose numerous and diverse elements whose ordering seems to irrupt, rather than continue, reality itself. The series consists of pieces that generate visual noise to such a degree that it produces eye fatigue; the total fragmentation of elements responds to new visual conditions configured by the internet, in which multiple images compete for the ephemeral attention of spectators. The Optichromies try to prevail and remain in a panorama where the visual suffers constant change at great speed.
Chromadynamica is a project that hones in on graphical details of the Optichromie series. Through kinetic interplay, this series focuses on the relations between colors and space, except oriented by the fast changes that can be visualized in contemporary media such as the internet. The dynamism in these works is produced by the interactions between colors as if they were the product of a deep close-up of a screen’s pixels, where certain patterns look like waterfalls or software errors. The textures that can be appreciated, traditionally the result of manual pigment mixtures, are here the product of a mechanical procedure: an ultramodern color impression comes to bear artistic qualities previously reserved for the work of the figure of the painter.
Subtractive Variability refers to the subtractive synthesis of colors commonly used by oil painters for the past centuries, as well as by printers of every kind since the beginning of the 20th century. The series explores the action of these colors (cyan, magenta, yellow), which in occasions can suggest clarity and chromatic definition, but that in others can diffuse and reduce intensity of overlapping colors. Pantone realizes these works through controlled printing operations that nonetheless generate chromatic ranges in a random fashion, experimenting in a way that the result is always a surprise in visual terms. In this sense, the series is composed by a diversity of pieces dedicated to the manipulation of color, all of them instances that make evident the relations between colors from the point of view of current printing technologies.
Programmed obsolescence refers to the end-point of a technological product’s life, which has been planned beforehand. Pantone crafts a wordplay in which he refers to the iridescent effect through which an entire chromatic range can be perceived upon certain surfaces such as oils, soap bubbles, or CDs. Usually accidental and hard to fix, the iridescence in this case is deliberate, programmed, suggesting, not without irony, an absolute control over light. By regulating the gradients of every color, their repetition, and even their displacement, Pantone turns the experience of looking at these works unique, inasmuch as every step taken by spectators, every movement, modifies and reconstructs how they look.