James Hoff,
In the Swim
Exhibition dates: April 15 - May 20, 2018
Opening reception: Sunday, April 15, 6–8pm

Press Release

Callicoon Fine Arts is pleased to present In the Swim, James Hoff’s fourth exhibition with the gallery, opening April 15th. The exhibition features a series of new paintings and an installation that links the classical flood motif found in landscape painting with the contemporary usage of the flood or deluge as an analogy for data flows. 

Nature has long been utilized as a source of metaphors for data and digital networks. It seems data is all around us in streams, mountains, and clouds. While these idyllic images help us to understand abstract technologies, they also mask a treacherous terrain: the infiltration, collection, and monetization of personal data by corporations, governments, and other actors.

With this in mind, Hoff has created a series of new paintings that reimagine our daily streams and flows as a disorienting churn of movement; an unrelenting deluge. Each work begins as a small painting on canvas, which is then digitally photographed. Hoff then subjects this image to a series of operations using data collection malware (“WannaCry,” “GRIZZLY STEPPE”), which formally disrupts the image and gives it a hyper-sensory glow. Subsequently, Hoff works through the painting digitally utilizing basic color theory techniques. As in his “Skywiper” series, these images are transferred to aluminum via a die sublimation process. 

The works in this series are dense, all-over compositions, containing multiple shifts in perspective. Squiggles of magenta and cyan are reminiscent of light captured at great speeds in high contrast, and the movement evoked by the work creates a sense of never-ending unease. Each brushstroke is accentuated by a multitude of layers, implying a depth that may never emerge, like the unresolved layers of a stereoscopic image.

In this installation, Hoff will use projections to construct a para-real space in which the exhibition is projected onto itself via Google’s Street View. He has employed a similar technique for HOBO UFO, a series of multimedia performances that utilized a modified, audio-reactive version to guide the first-person perspective of Google Maps Street View, starting in the room hosting the performance.

In the Swim utilizes technology to collapse corporeal experience and computational space. Here, the flood is mobilized as a sublime force of power: it flattens, even resets, by way of its own momentum. The metaphor of the flood continues to resonate with our digital era, pummeling forward with disorienting speed, and informs the way we read images of landscapes past and present. Manipulating data as a painterly tool, Hoff reconsiders how material and immaterial labor factor into our digital and environmental footprint. Each turbulent painting mirrors our own habitat, but proposes it might be redefined from within.

James Hoff (b. 1975) lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. His work encompasses painting, sound, performance, and publishing among other media. He has performed and exhibited his artwork extensively throughout the United States and Europe over the last ten years. Hoff is also a co-founder of Primary Information, a non-profit arts organization devoted to publishing artists’ books and art historical documents. Recent solo museum exhibitions include those at Anne Leonowens Gallery at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Canada; the Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans, Louisiana; and Base Arte Contemporanea Odierna (BACO) in Bergamo, Italy. His work has been included in two-person and group exhibitions at the Hessel Museum of Art, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York; The Kitchen, New York; Bielefelder Kunstverein, Germany; Midway Contemporary Art, Minneapolis; the Eli & Edythe Broad Art Museum, East Lansing, MI; and Kunsthall Oslo, Norway. Readings, talks, and performances by Hoff have taken place at Mass MoCa, North Adams, Massachusetts; Artist’s Space, New York; MoMA/PS1, New York; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; Issue Project Room, New York; Bergen Kunsthall, Norway; and La Monnaie/De Munt, Brussels, Belgium.