Michael Staniak poetically overlaps physical and virtual spaces
“I believe that every artist is now strongly linked with the screen and digital media,” says Michael Staniak, touching on a conceptual departure point for both his wider body of work, and his new show at STATION.
“By displaying work online,” continues Staniak, “whether conscious or not, the artist is making work that will have some optimisation for the media on which it is displayed. This may occur within the work or in documentation and post-production. I simply tune in closely to the phenomena and make work that responds accordingly.”
Staniak is exploring these ideas with a series of bronze sculptures displayed amid an installation of mirrored panels and plinths. The works, he says, allow him to interrogate how digital media has influenced the traditional and accepted ways of creating physical works of art.
Mirrors, also employed in an exhibition Staniak recently had in Mallorca, Spain, play a key role. “These mirrored surfaces act as a metaphor for our use of screens in virtual, networked environments, where preferences and information are tailored via algorithms and AI [artificial intelligence]. In this way, a screen is no longer a window in which we view the outside world but a mirror exposing our behaviours, interests and emotions.”
Importantly, Staniak’s work seeks to explore and understand the impact of technology, rather than offer any critique—the exhibition has no political intent. His preoccupation is with technology’s impact on craft, citing as an influence Edgar Degas’s experiments with photography, as well as contemporary American artist Wade Guyton, who uses scanners and inkjet printers (among other things) to create abstract paintings. “I’m pretty neutral on new technology,” Staniak says. “The intentions of its adopters render it either ‘good’ or ‘bad’, in a moral sense.”