Lines made visible_ Matthew Ritchie’s artworks of lines

| April 25, 2014

In relation to our line talks and Shusterman’s comment of contemporary artists responding to changes in our lifeworld particularly towards a modular and informational experience, I thought the contemporary artist Matthew Ritchie’s artwork would be worth to be talked about. Matthew Ritchie is one of those artists who is interested in developing his own mythical narrative or cosmology, and his art is communicated via a variety of art spaces and installations, including worldwide galleries and the internet. Ritchie draws upon philosophical, religious, and scientific narratives to create a complex universe where these theories can be circulated amongst one another. In these artists’ works, webs of data are formed in artistic compositions that reference the questions that society continues to base their meaning of existence on.

Ritchie’s work personifies these questions into art. Ritchie’s pieces have a scientific nature to them, but do not solely represent scientific agenda. Instead, his work investigates the role of science within society, creating a narrative between order and chaos. His artworks appear to be very spectacular and biomorphic.

His work deals with the theme of information. Ritchie explains this theme with a few rhetorical questions and statements:

“…for me the theme of my new structure was information, how do you deal with it? As a person is it possible for you to grasp everything and see everything? You’re presented with everything and all through your life you’re trying to filter out, you’re really just trying to control that flow.”

“How can we learn to see information as form? I’ve always been interested in this idea of anthropomorphizing information and have wanted to use painting to prove one of the fundamental premises of information theory, that any sufficiently complex system will acquire its own internal meaning.” (Ritchie, 2004, p. 39)

The <Proposition Player> was created in 2003 for the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. This piece explores Ritchie’s thoughts on gambling and quantum mechanics, and the illusions that come along with the elements of chance and risk.

In the exhibition, visitors were given a playing card by the exhibition guard to take part and “play” Ritchie’s invented game.  This is based on the artist’s idea that the moment between placing the bet and the result of the bet, there is a kind of infinite freedom because all the possibilities are there. Simultaneously, in Ritchie’s context, each card symbolized one of the 49 characteristics that he has defined to represent a function of the universe. The artist has created this piece to take the idea of a fixed set of relationships, and to turn it into something completely shuffle-able.