A Monk Texting: Works by Marc Mitchell & Derek Larson

Exhibit dates: August 28 – October 17, 2015

A Monk Texting is an exhibition by Derek G. Larson and Marc Mitchell in response to the popularity of fitness trackers and web data collection by Google, as well as other companies. Larson and Mitchell willingly became their own sample set, collecting personalized data from their daily activities (such as number of steps taken, hours slept, calories burned, and time spent on the internet) via Fitbits. The catalyst for the project was the history of autobiography in the studio practice of artists, especially Philip Guston’s 1973 artwork “Painting, Smoking, Eating,” which chronicled the artist’s daily routines. Larson and Mitchell have created autobiographical artworks specific to data sets that can then be combined and hung side-by-side to represent a given daily activity. With their studios 900 miles apart, this project became an ascetic/aesthetic exchange of data and a devout practice in communication with someone not present.

Regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, or profession, our days are driven by a reliance on digital surveillance. With the influx of affordable consumer-based central processing units (CPUs), individuals can now “plug-in” 24 hours a day. Now more than ever we rely on computers, sensors, and software for professional and personal well being. Posts on social media outlets not only share our thoughts with the world but also shape our cyber-profile; every time we post a location via Foursquare, swipe a credit card, input a Google search, or send an email, we create a footprint that is tracked. Whether we like it or not, our digital data is being collected, aggregated and synthesized.

“…one can observe from the tower, standing out precisely against the light, the small captive shadows in the cells… They are like so many cages, so many small theatres, in which each actor is alone, perfectly individualized and constantly visible.” -Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish.

About Derek G. Larson 

Derek G. Larson received his MFA from the Yale School of Art and has participated in a number of national and international exhibitions and residencies. He’s had recent shows in New Orleans, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, New York, and Copenhagen. His work combines paint, lights and motors with animated projections and shaped screens. In 2013 he published an online exhibit in Boston’s Big Red & Shiny and was a finalist for the Hudgens Prize in Atlanta. In 2014 he received the SECAC Fellowship, was featured in New American Paintings, and he received the David Bermant Foundation Fellowship. His work has been featured in the Seattle Times, NY Arts Magazine, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Rhizome and The Boston Globe.

About Marc Mitchell 

Marc Mitchell received his MFA from Boston University and has participated in a number of exhibitions throughout the United States at institutions such as G.A.S.P Gallery, Boston; Denise Bibro Gallery, New York; University of Wisconsin, Madison; University of Massachusetts, Boston; and Laconia Gallery, Boston. Over the past 10 years, he has overseen exhibitions that feature artists such as Josef Albers, Louise Bourgeois, Emmet Gowin, Ellsworth Kelly, Arnold Kemp Robert Longo, Sam Messer, Allan McCollum, Richard Misrach, Thomas Nozkowski, Fred Sandback, and many others. In 2014 his work was selected for New American Paintings #112 featuring artists from the South. Mitchell is currently an Assistant Professor of Art and the Director of Exhibitions at the University of Arkansas.