Dirty Pixels

Stella Brennan

Tim Ryan, Sara Hughes, Joyce Campbell, John Simons Jr, Martin Thompson, White Stripes, Stella Brennan

12 August –14 September 2002

Curated by Stella Brennan


The pixel (the word is a contraction of Opicture element) is a poignant, sometimes even palpable symptom of digital culture. Visual atomism - gridding and breaking images into monochrome, indivisible chunks has a history stretching from classical mosaic to Pontillism to grainy photo ID. Dirty Pixels explores the anatomy of the pixel, the slice and dice of the raster that underlies much of our visual culture.

In spite of existing only in informational space, pixel vision colours our world view. Graphic fashion has seen the return of the pixel bigger, bolder, more ironic. Chunky gifs and pixel fonts recall Lego-strewn bedrooms and all-night Atari binges. As consumer-electronic grainlessness approaches (Playstation2, Final Fantasy), those blocky styles have retro cachet (not to mention quick download times).

Dirty Pixels is about ideas and attitudes that feed into and out of digital culture, about corrupting a Cartesian dream. From Piet Mondrian¹s austerely low-res boogie-woogie to heavily compressed jack-in-the-box porn, the grid gets grubby in the real world.

Featured works use media including music video, photography, vinyl painting, embroidery, Javascript, ink on paper. The show explores life before and after the pixel.