Stepping Into Water

Jessica Mathews' exploration of digital and physical realities gains new dimensions in this solo exhibition

Exhibitionism

'Stepping Into Water'

Red Space Gallery, 1203 W. 49th, Unit B
www.redspacegallery.com
Through Oct. 14

"Stepping Into Water" is a departure for artist Jessica Mathews. An Austin transplant by way of Savannah, Ga., Mathews entered the scene with a formal art school background and began expanding her portfolio of photorealistic oil paintings. Much of her work debuted at Up Collective (where Mathews is a newly appointed director) and showcased the early stages of her exploration of digital and physical realities. "Screens," her first series to dissect the relationship between the two, represented the digital workspace as its own creative entity alongside the creative functionality for which we often employ computers. It depicted desktop backgrounds merging with images that Mathews was editing in Photoshop to create a fused portrait of both independent and dependent digital space.

This conceptual agenda dominates "Stepping Into Water," but instead of relying on paintings to carry the message, Mathews has made video and installation works the focal points, with paintings and illustrations also included. The strategy succeeds in fulfilling Mathews' ideas about the digital and the literal far better than her formative paintings.

Red Space Gallery's walls are splashed with a compressed video of water moving. The subject has been zoomed in on to the point that it's almost indiscernible except for quick flicks of movement across the water's surface that translate as movements in the stark blues projected onto the wall. Physical representations of the blocked pixels that make up the digital image have been built out of wood and metal siding, then stacked in front of the projection to help anchor the installation. It's a somewhat cheeky way to let the video be less serene and more systematic in its origins.

Mathews' illustrations and paintings depict macro and micro views of the video installation. A gradient of blue in large scale and smaller scale are accompanied by illustrations of the many hexcodes that compose the image. Hexcodes, which allow computers to translate color, are composed of a six-digit code that correspond to different intensities of the primary colors. Mathews offers her audience a complete list of all the shades of blue presented in her video, which turns out to be an overwhelming number. It's another extension of the sensory pleasure we experience when interacting with technology that is, in reality, intensely multifaceted and complex. Mathews has just scratched the surface of this concept and, as she grows comfortable in new mediums, is sure to become even more intellectually captivating.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Austin visual art
Exhibitionism
"Ryan Cronk: Migration Wisdom, Chalk Lines, Tracings, and Undertow"
This solo show explores new existential threats in sharp analytical prints and layered chaotic collage

Seth Orion Schwaiger, Sept. 5, 2014

"Michael Anthony García: Chimaera"
This ambitious solo show explores gender duality with the help of furniture and clothing borrowed from friends and family

Seth Orion Schwaiger, Aug. 29, 2014

More Arts Reviews
Theatre Synesthesia's <i>The Fault</i>
Theatre Synesthesia's The Fault
In Katie Bender's play, an American family tries to save itself from being shaken apart

Robert Faires, Oct. 19, 2018

"Ed Ruscha: Archaeology and Romance" at the Ransom Center
This evocative excavation into the artist's process of creating art and making books reveals the work of art is the completed book itself

Melany Jean, Oct. 19, 2018

More by Caitlin Greenwood
Kevin McNamee-Tweed: The Exit Interview
Kevin McNamee-Tweed: The Exit Interview
As he leaves Austin, the award-winning curator and artist reflects on the city's artists and art community

March 10, 2017

“I saw the world” at Pump Project
“I saw the world” at Pump Project
Imperialism and identity compete in Betelhem Makonnen’s solo show about a 19th century Ethiopian prince

Dec. 23, 2016

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Stepping Into Water, Austin visual art, Jessica Mathews, Red Space Gallery

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle