The hermaphrodite is another theme that Nechvatal has used from the beginning, crossing theline through time and space. It goes back to Plato’s mythology and Ovidius’
,but is also a highly contemporary figure that speaks to the transformation of the human bodyby way of genetics, modern medical techniques, and post-humanist considerations. Nechvatalrealizes this with a poetic sensitivity not common in the field of computer-mediated art, albeitwith the efficiency of concrete demonstration in the flesh.There is a final and drastically important step in all the stratum of references andsignifications, techniques and mediums. Since 1991, the artist has worked on computer depictions of viruses, and from 2001, in collaboration with Stéphane Sikora, he has combinedthe notion of computer virus with that of artificial life. The viruses are introduced into animage and literally eats it. The eye and anus presage the allegory of this virtual chemistry. Thedepiction on the canvas is an instant in the process of destruction of the heterogeneous figure.He shows the
on the iPad screen as canvas.Viruses are indeed a metaphor of destruction. Put alongside virtualization, abstraction andcodification, it also emerges as a political metaphor. Not only does the body explode in theseprocedures, but the mind as well by its total immersion into noise. For Nechvatal, themultiplication of image has a corollary in the merging into noise. We can mention DonDeLillo, another New Yorker, whose novel
evoked the persistent rumor createdby the constant presence of media in our lives since the 60s. Or his other novel,
named after the Andy Warhol painting, where he explores the place of the artist in a world of violence and intolerance.The noise created by those means is a form of deep solitude buried in seemingly apparentmultiplicities. Here, the artist wants it undeviated from its original purpose and has created a
, generated with sounds eating the image (performed on September the 26
inthe Galerie Richard), an exploration of what noise is, and what it does deep inside.This is art with a brain, for sure. But when a mutitude of visions, Plato’s cave, the end of art,virtual data, viral destruction, and environnemental noise are put side by side, the messageand meaning of Nechvatal’s work becomes clear: How can we step up from illusion tounderstanding ? How do we go from shadow to light? And how can we break the chains thatretain us? In the recycling of all the subjects he says, by a historical understanding; to copewith complexity directly with a refusal to fall back on the facileness of duality. We have topeel away layers of the cultural onion, enter into noise, and face the enemy.