The constant data collection on our lives, from iPhone usage to subway card swipes, transforms through Laurie Frick‘s art into portraiture. Who are you? What day is it? on view through this weekend at Pavel Zoubok Gallery in Chelsea has an installation of some of her recent data art pieces, where the usage of time is visualized into an expression of self.
Data collection on our lives is one of the obtrusive realities of the modern world, but Frick, an artist with a tech background now based in both Austin and New York City, sees taking ownership of that data as a positive way to better understand our lives. Even while NSA surveillance intrudes into privacy, personal data collection is a growing obsession, as demonstrated by the popularity of Timothy Ferriss’s data-conscious self-help books and the spread of wearable trackers like the Fitbit that counts your steps, which may soon be surpassed by the even more advanced Apple Watch.
Frick uses various smartphone apps and other forms of personal monitoring for pieces like “14 Days,” where an assemblage of woodblocks and leather rises and falls in a cascade across several canvases. It’s color coded for activities that reflect technology use, like iPhone use, time on Chrome and Photoshop, reading on devices, email checking, and Facebook, all contrasted against things like eating at home, eating at restaurants, studio work, sleeping, walking, driving, waiting, and even a chaotic moment at the end of Friday where everything collapses on the floor. Although an individual portrait, the pattern is similar to many of our lives, where we don’t often stop to consider how different an hour can feel when devoted to a different task.
The work in Who are you? What day is it?, named for the two questions posed to someone with a concussion, is all about these patterns, all chromatically charted with simple materials that capture the complexity of our time. As dual portraits of a woman aged 32 and a man aged 37 show over seven days, where each 24 hours is given a totem of color for its usage, our sleep patterns and waking hours can vary wildly. Frick’s work argues for embracing this data, with all the regularity of arrhythmia, as a modern form of highly self-aware portraiture, giving us a better understanding of our selves through place and time.
Laurie Frick: Who are you? What day is it? continues at Pavel Zoubok Gallery (531 West 26th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan) through July 25.