The exhibition features recent neon sculptures and ‘reverse paintings’ created with a CNC router on clear acrylic panels. In these works, Goins plays with the role of the artist, using technology less as a tool and more as a co-author. This subverts the expectation of the audience by making the industrial become seemingly organic.
Darren Goins works to embrace and celebrate gesture through the interpretation and limitations of technology. Utilising digital tools, Goins’ practice is a telephone game between the intent of the artist and the rendering of the computer, highlighting the process of creating these pieces where the hand of the artist is evident and transparent through the hand of the machine. Each artwork tells the story of how it was made, they describe the long, complicated (and often arduous) process that goes into producing it.
For his sculptures, Goins collaborated with a neon fabricator to bend inch-thick glass tubes on an aluminum base. Surrounding the neon is a cast rope made of tinted silicon, and on the base are casts of salt crystals grown over a period of several months. For his paintings, Goins begins his process in Photoshop where he draws and interprets digital images that are fed into a CNC router. The router etches these drawings into the back of clear acrylic panels, often resulting in unexpected and novel renditions of his intent.
Each painting that Goins produces is co-authored between him and his CNC router. Even after working comfortably with the medium for four years Goins says, “about 50% of it is chance, even after you program it to execute an action the machine has its own gesture.” Goins views the router as a utilitarian tool that is only a step up from routing by hand; it is within that step that the router’s unpredictability is apparent.
It is only after the completion of a painting that Goins is able to see what was produced. This is due to a opaque protective cover on the front of the acrylic panels that prevents Goins from monitoring the growth of a painting. It is only after the last etch has been made into the piece that the image reveals itself. This makes Goins’ unique style truly a reverse process open to chance—it is his methodology that takes precedence over his intent.
Darren Goins’ pieces confront the viewer with how one engages with and utilizes technology. Through his embrace of chance and his flexible process, something organic peeks through his images. We are again left to consider what role human gesture has in painting. With these pieces there is neither a true rejection of the body nor a celebration of touch, but some strange in-between on the cusp of a new status quo. The ways that the routed drawings interact with each other give off the sense that there is a transitory liminal space within the works. In Darren’s paintings we can see the ghost of humanity filtered through digital media, fluidly weaved in space, and borne in routed plastic.