Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Mike Miller's Computer Stream-influenced Prints at the MAPC show

Mike Miller has been fascinated with the digital stream of computers and virtual information for some time. His two prints at the MAPC show represent those interests, but every time I pass by them at the Mid America print Show, I see, or maybe I want to see, something deeper. After pondering his works I have come to the conclusion that Miller is still infusing his Abstract Expressionist roots into these digital-influenced pieces.  Miller says of this particular series "These works infuse the coded sequences with painterly gesture, challenging the stereotypical associations of programming as a bloodless, mechanical operation." That is apparent.

What's different in these prints versus Miller's paintings and unique 'microprocessor' prints is some presence of the human element - a logical stream that seems more obvious than in those earlier series. Yes, this group shows elements of computer stream and programming data, but it's Miller's presentation of an organic jumble that speaks more about a chromosomic stamp onto pre-determined flow patterns of computer programming. The prints look more like a cyclone of data swirling in a mass of energy. The place is not relevant, but if anyone has ever been in the middle of Illinois and dealt with the forces of nature down there, you know there's no natural defense from the winds that start somewhere in Kansas and blow through the Midwest to West Virginia. I'm not saying Miller's works here are computerized manifestations for Nature, but there is something that one's environmental experience can contribute as background 'data' for consideration.

The Abstract Expressionist painter Joan Mitchell's organic brushstrokes composed a new spatial/color order . In this group I see a loose connection to her multi-layered, pre-verbal expressiveness. And in another point of comparison, some of the Binary-inspired series of Terry Winters' paintings loosely come to mind, although they are very different birds. 

Maybe it's a natural response for Miller, and for a wave of artists working today, to use the technology itself as a viable subject matter while we jettison into the 21st century and deal with all the available gadget-ry. How many of us need to have the latest ipod or the latest computer program? We have moved on a bit technology-wise from the days of going with our dads and grandfathers to the local hardware store and rummaging through the aisles for a special wrench or looking at the newest lawn mowers. The same can be said here, as Miller uses the technology - visually - to inform his work.  As long as he doesn't lose the 'human composing programmer'element, we will still be able to connect with his explorations into technology. 

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