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SLOAN / Art in a Complex System
immensely unful lling for the viewer.
Along with Groebel's studies of perspec-
tive and art history, his understanding
of color is what distinguishes his work
from many of his contemporaries.
This "twilight" effect has an enormous
impact on the cultural reading of the
work. The gures and landscapes are
generic, the province of an unspeci ed
televisual scene. A reading of the images
is left to the viewer's choice and experi-
ence. The one completely recognizable
thing about them is that they are media-
or photographic-based, and the viewer
is encouraged to engage with the wider
cultural reference of the screen image in
relation to the painted image. The un-
derstated nature of the color could be
seen to evoke a suggestion of the darker
side in all its contexts of the media and
the fascination for reports of a seamier
side of society. The images conjure up
scenes of suburbia where life continues
uninterrupted without contemplation
of the incongruous, even unthinkable,
events happening next door. Currently
lm, ction, newspapers, websites, and
television itself are fueling people's insa-
tiability for voyeurism of perceived fe-
tishes and anomalies in other people's
lives, but ones which are never know-
ingly present in their own.
The media stimulates a desire for limit-
less boundaries; Groebel's images--with
understated color, attening, and delib-
erate anonymity--by contrast, leave it
up to the viewer to invent scenarios
and, perhaps more importantly, to look
at the raw material of both the painted
and media image. In this respect the
work is reminiscent of pieces by Susan
Hiller, such as Belshazzar's Feast/The
Writing on the Wall
(1983­6) around
reported sightings of phenomena in the
white noise of television that has ceased
broadcasting, or Screen Dreams (1995)
looking at the basic material and gate-
ways on the Internet. It is perhaps
Groebel's Hacked Channels series that
provides an extrapolation and under-
scoring of this approach to the work.
Until 2000 Groebel worked with video
stills grabbed from network broadcast.
Then he began to work exclusively with
British Sky channels intended for broad-
cast only in the UK. Through the
Internet, he was able to download free
software produced to encrypt these chan-
nels. The download of the software, or
perhaps the code itself, creates bugs that
give a pixilated effect when trying to
broadcast the image. His earlier work
makes the viewer examine the nature of
engagement with the uninterrupted tele-
vision broadcast image. The Hacked
Channels work exposes the raw material
of the broadcast image, the nature of its
dissemination, and the encryption de-
vices needed to access certain images
and channels. It very directly looks at
the ad hoc way in which images are
distributed and censored for consump-
tion. Inadvertently, the work draws at-
tention to the issues raised by new
approaches to broadcasting, monopo-
lies, and the work of illegal broadcasters
and free software developers. Groebel
becomes a painter broadcasting his own
transmissions in broadband.
The artist sees these images as being
representational but fuzzy, somewhere
between a broadcast of an object or
event and a hallucination. This reading
seems tting given the clichés surround-
ing the people involved in computer
subculture and Internet/broadcast ac-
tivism. But when these images are trans-
ferred through the painting process,