Christophe Behrens | Compression Series

JPEG + Fuji Proofs | F.0005.0001 - .0002

Between 1997 and 1999 Behrens extensively explored the use of compression algorithms as the basis for an artistic methodology. The result is the influential 'Compression Series' which has toured widely showing at some of the world's leading galleries.

Behrens states:

"I have always been interested in exploiting the (positive) visual/auditory aspects of what are subjectively defined as 'flaws' or 'imperfections'.

"As the world wide web began to take off as a means of dispersing information I found myself drawn to the destructive elegance of the compression formats web-designers were forced to use to speed download times. The 'artefacts' designers laboured to eliminate I laboured to exploit; I saw in these imperfections a painterly quality almost impressionistic in nature.

"Within a few months of working on 'Compression Series' I was able to 'paint' by moving blocks of code (raw text) around in a basic text-editor. Before long I was able to abandon the image-editing programmes I'd begun using and adopt a more intuitve purely text-based approach.

"The result of this was a series of text-only paintings in which the image is defined only by ASCII text parameters. I was intrigued by the fact that the viewer can re-create the 'image' by simply re-keying in the appropriate code and viewing it in a web-browser. I felt this was a much more democratic approach to 'art' as anyone could re-key, re-rasterise and consequently re-create the original work. It was in effect an unlimited 'multiple'."

Behrens' choice of imagery (portraits culled from the FBI's 'Most Wanted' lists) recall Andy Warhol's earlier work of the same name. The impressionistic quality of the images have an unsettling quality which Behrens' chose specifically to exploit.

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