Hyperceptions 1 Hyperceptions II - "RED" Hyperceptions IV - After 'Sunflowers' by Vincent van Gogh Hyperceptions V - After 'Cafe Terrace' by Vincent van Gogh Hyperceptions VI - After 'Church in Auvers' by Vincent van Gogh Oil on canvas

In the 1930s, cultural critic Walter Benjamin eluded to the rise of mass media and the subsequent the decay of the magical ‘aura’ surrounding the original work of art as it originated in time and as it was being displayed in space. The internet with its vast offerings of on-line museums as well as myriad cyberspaces where images can be stored, shared and seen has indeed emancipated access by “substitut[ing] a mass existence for a unique existence” (Benjamin 104). Ironically, the on-line existence of images finds itself subject to the cyber elements. Repeated file compression processes cause ‘digital erosion’ to the point of the fragmentation and disintegration of the image. Our digital encounter with famous works of art often leaves us with nothing more than a pixelated impression.

I am interested in perceptions of images - in their supposed accurate representation of the ‘real thing’ and in the manipulation and distortion of images. In my paintings I set out to do a ‘hypertextual’ read of the pixels constructing the image as they fall apart before my eyes: I ‘click on the links’ of colour or movement that catch my eye and paint them. I do this again and again, creating many layers of pixelated perceptions. This process of perception leads to a painting that, ironically has its own materiality and, as Benjamin would call it, its own ‘aura.’ As I post JPEGS of my work online, the process has come full circle or perhaps full pixel...


Benjamin, Walter. “The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility.”
Selected Writings Vol.3: 1935-1938. Walter Benjamin. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002. 101-133.


Vincent Van Gogh - Sunflowers (Hyperceptions IV)
Vincent Van Gogh - Cafe Terrace (Hyperceptions V)
Vincent Van Gogh - The Church at Auvers (Hyperceptions VI)
Hans Hoffman - paintings

© 2008 helma sawatzky – updated in june 2010