Upstream Focus: Abstract Browsing
Upstream Gallery is proud to present work by Rafaël Rozendaal in our private viewing space.
In 2014, Rozendaal developed the plug-in Abstract Browsing. Its code alters information from websites: images, advertisements, and text fields are transformed into brightly colored geometric elements. This way, the narrative of the Internet makes room for an abstract composition that reveals the underlying structure of websites.
Rozendaal collects thousands of screenshots of Abstract Browsing generated compositions. A number of these are then selected by him to be produced as tapestry. Rozendaal: ‘I look for compositions that are the least picturesque. Painting is about a concentrated view, about beauty rather than utility. Websites are built exactly the opposite: developers are constantly looking for new structures that entice users to click somewhere, generating the highest advertisement revenue. Websites are created from necessity and efficiency, not beauty. I select compositions that are a bit awkward, unlike classic abstract painting that is about tranquility and contemplation.’ Internet art and the loom are less far apart than one might think. Rozendaal: ‘It feels natural to work with this technique. The loom stood at the beginning of the industrial revolution; the punch card for mechanical looms was the first form of digital image storage. Not all output of computer art finds its manifestation on screens.’
The websites that served as the basis for the tapestries are still recognizable. The Netflix homepage, the Google Flights search.
Artforum wrote about these works:
‘Rafaël Rozendaal’s tapestries materially fix the Internet’s fleeting forms into pulsing, vibrant abstractions. […] Rozendaal’s pieces suggest a conflicted modernist hybrid of painting and tapestry—its historically intertwined relative—echoing works by Anni Albers.’