– Benjamin Forster NCCL Commission
Benjamin Forster did a residency here at the MCA and was subsequently commissioned to create a work for one of our many walls. This is now just outside our National Centre for Creative Learning on Level 3 and is called My first painting. Because he’s got the best way of putting it, here’s how Benjamin describes the work.
Black and white. This is where we begin. An abstract. A simple optical effect.
My first painting is deceptive. It looks complex, and although it does happen to have over 112 hours of labour in its facade, it is really rather simple.
It started with a text. I wrote an unsophisticated algorithm that generates the image. Text, in the form of computer code, which gave rise to image. An image plainly consisting of four grids overlaid. From here the interest was then how to enact this process in order to actualise the resulting image on a wall. The text was then translated into another process, another text, this time detailing a physical procedure, rather than a digital one, using ruler and pencil, tape and paint.
This translation text to image, text to text to image, is perhaps where the creative decisions lie, where a singular point was chosen from multiple; They definitely do not lie in the execution of the painting itself, as once the words are set, the action is then unthought. Perhaps this is where the point, if there must be a point, rests – it is that words dominate, words own, words control, words have dominion over all things. Once an image is made it also returns to words. Titles are attached, wall labels are written, question are raised, statements demanded.
Although often designated as mere paratexts, beside the work, these texts in fact begin to determine the work as ‘artwork.’ Thus, the image returns to the world of words. My first painting is born explicitly of words, yet I do not think this is too unlike other artworks. Other artworks, other commissions, are born tacitly through texts, be it through a proposal for an exhibition or a commission, a rationale for a grant, an application for a prize, or simply the dot points of a CV.
Maybe all artworks are written into existence.
Black and white. This is where we end. An abstract. A simple optical effect.
Benjamin Forster’s practice may be positioned within contemporary drawing, bringing together digital and biological technologies, installation and print to trace the boundaries of logic, economy and the role of the artist in art making. He received a Bachelor of Visual Arts with
First Class Honours from the Australian National University in 2009.
His Drawing Machine project was exhibited in Hatched 09: The National Graduate Exhibition at PICA, as well as the International Symposium on Computational Aesthetics 09 in Victoria, Canada. In 2012, Forster’s work was included in PRIMAVERA at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney in 2012 and NEW13 at ACCA in 2013.
Benjamin undertook a 6 month residency at the MCA during 2013, after which he was commissioned to create a work for the MCA.