Carter Hodgkin’s Aesthetic Embraces Coding and Composition

ANTE Staff

We are proud to feature an interview with the thoughtful polymath artist Carter Hodgkin, who discussed her work with us in depth in order to outline the range of philosophies and aesthetic values impacting her practice. The artist walks us through specific artworks, detailing the global origins that have informed her perspective as a multi-disciplinary and digital creator.

’Remote 6’ Carter Hodgkin Mixed media and collage on canvas on panel (2021) (40×60”)
’Irises on a Rock’ Carter Hodgkin. Animation – HD Blu Ray (4’5”)

ANTE. Thanks for chatting with us, Carter! So in works like “Irises on a Rock,” the viewer is presented with multiple elements moving spatially across the composition at a time – how do you hope this shift in composition impacts the viewer as the work progresses second by second?

 Carter Hodgkin. The animation, “Irises on a Rock” was an opportunity to explore forms growing, dissipating and dissolving.  It came about while taking walks in Upstate, NY examining the lines of bifurcating stems and blossoms on wildflowers and weeds. 
To create this animation, I generated atomic particle collisions using the Open Source program Processing. Playing around with the code becomes a drawing process where parameters are set to create a collision.  Particles collide in an animated somewhat randomly fashion. I piece these animated collisions together to form a moving composition. In forming the  composition, I was inspired by the use of space in Chinese Literati paintings.  

To me, making the animation is like drawing in space and time, giving the viewer an experience of creation. My use of  time slows down the act of viewing, allowing the viewer to notice small  moments morph into something larger. I am excited when my animations are displayed in large-scale settings or on different LED  configurations. The digital nature of my animation process scales well and the animations  become large-scale paintings that move. 

ANTE. “The Nine Bend Stream” is inspired by 16th century Korean landscape painting, yet the work appears primarily as abstraction. How is this work-in-five-parts in dialogue with this historic painting lineage from the perspective of digital art?

CH. I was inspired by the Korean painting “Nine-bend Stream at [Mount] Mui” By Lee Seonggil  (1562–?) which portrays a famous landscape in China. I saw this painting at the Metropolitan  Museum of Art and was intrigued by the quirky mountain forms. I wanted to work with the  abstraction in these forms and began creating compositions that expressed the energy and movement. From there I wove a visual narrative of falling particles conjuring fireworks,  waterfalls, and volcanic mountains. 

’Blue Remote’ Carter Hodgkin Mixed media and collage on canvas on panel (2021) (40×60”)

ANTE. In your artist statement, you outline that you are inspired by the interdiscipinary links connecting science, tech and art through the common language of abstraction. Can you provide specific examples of how multiple disciplines connect in your artwork(s)?

CH. I have been connecting these links for a long time in various ways. Two pieces that might serve as examples of these connections are Blue Remote and Remote 6; both paintings made in 2021. My exploration with atomic particle collisions is a scientific aspect while tech is in the tools I use to translate the collisions into a format I can work with and the art is in making a painting, mosaic or animation out of it all. For Blue Remote and Remote 6, I generated particle collisions in a landscape format. I played with the code so that particles hit the bottom of the canvas and moved back upwards towards the top of the canvas.  When I got something  I liked, I captured a collision and digitized it through the lens of mosaic. Conflating mosaic with the digital collapses high tech with the lowest tech imaging as well as evoking ancient and future. 

Form is created by gluing hand-painted paper squares onto  grounds of canvas printed with ‘digital noise patterns. Using acrylic and watercolor, I play with  color and visual textures to create layers of depth and movement.  The construction of form becomes labor-intensive, meditative and contemplative. What takes  seconds to create in a collision, takes weeks to interpret into a painting.  

ANTE. Can you share with us what you’re working on currently, and what you have upcoming in your practice?

CH. In response to new media ‘updates’, i.e. NFT and Instagram, I have been creating very short animations in those formats. I also want to create  longer animations that can reside in stand-alone playback format, i.e. frames. 

However, painting occupies my  attention –  as  always – and I’ve been working on medium scale paintings in square and landscape format. Some of these  pieces will be in a show at Saratoga Arts, NY in June. Two paintings from 2010 will be in a  show called “Techpression- the digital & beyond” at the Southampton Art Center, NY in April.  

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