The Making of "No State"
For the exhibition Black Gooey Universe (2018), American Artist made a suite of sculptures about technology. Using dirt, tar, silicone and old smartphone parts, the exhibition set out to convey an alternate realm of technology where the black backdrop of the original command-line interface continued to serve as the blank canvas of digital creation rather than the white backdrop of the the graphical user interface introduced to personal computers in the 1970s.
The sculpture No State featured a matrix of hundreds of smartphones with black cracked screens set in a grid on the floor. The title implied that the phones were in no particular state, neither dead nor alive, but in a liminal space of possible usage and value. This video depicts the final stage in the process of creating the sculptural phones where Artist picks up a phone—composed of a recycled phone case, black silicon, and cut window glass—and drops it onto the floor at a particular distance to achieve the desired crack pattern in the glass.
American Artist is an artist whose work considers black labor and visibility within networked life. Their practice makes use of video, installation, new media, and writing. Artist is a resident at Red Bull Arts Detroit and a 2018-2019 recipient of the Queens Museum Jerome Foundation Fellowship. They are a former resident of EYEBEAM and completed the Whitney Independent Study program as an artist in 2017. They have exhibited at the Museum of African Diaspora, San Francisco; the Studio Museum in Harlem; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and Koenig & Clinton, New York. Their work has been featured in the New York Times, Artforum, and Huffington Post. They have published writing in The New Inquiry and Art21. Artist is a part-time faculty at Parsons The New School and teaches at the School for Poetic Computation.