James Hoff. In the Swim

15 Apr 2018 – 20 May 2018

Callicoon Fine Arts

New York
New York, United States

Travel Information

  • The nearest subway stops are the B and D trains at Grand Street, the J train at Bowery, and the F, J, M and Z trains at Delancey-Essex. The Spring Street stop on the 6 train is also convenient about 6 blocks away.

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Callicoon Fine Arts is pleased to present In the Swim, James Hoff’s fourth exhibition with the gallery.


The exhibition features a series of new paintings and an installation that links the classical flood motif found in landscape painting with the contemporary usage of the flood or deluge as an analogy for data flows. 

Nature has long been utilized as a source of metaphors for data and digital networks. It seems data is all around us in streams, mountains, and clouds. While these idyllic images help us to understand abstract technologies, they also mask a treacherous terrain: the infiltration, collection, and monetization of personal data by corporations, governments, and other actors.

With this in mind, Hoff has created a series of new paintings that reimagine our daily streams and flows as a disorienting churn of movement; an unrelenting deluge. Each work begins as a small painting on canvas, which is then digitally photographed. Hoff then subjects this image to a series of operations using data collection malware (“WannaCry,” “GRIZZLY STEPPE”), which formally disrupts the image and gives it a hyper-sensory glow. Subsequently, Hoff works through the painting digitally utilizing basic color theory techniques. As in his “Skywiper” series, these images are transferred to aluminum via a die sublimation process. 

The works in this series are dense, all-over compositions, containing multiple shifts in perspective. Squiggles of magenta and cyan are reminiscent of light captured at great speeds in high contrast, and the movement evoked by the work creates a sense of never-ending unease. Each brushstroke is accentuated by a multitude of layers, implying a depth that may never emerge, like the unresolved layers of a stereoscopic image.

In this installation, Hoff will use projections to construct a para-real space in which the exhibition is projected onto itself via Google’s Street View. He has employed a similar technique for HOBO UFO, a series of multimedia performances that utilized a modified, audio-reactive version to guide the first-person perspective of Google Maps Street View, starting in the room hosting the performance.

In the Swim utilizes technology to collapse corporeal experience and computational space. Here, the flood is mobilized as a sublime force of power: it flattens, even resets, by way of its own momentum. The metaphor of the flood continues to resonate with our digital era, pummeling forward with disorienting speed, and informs the way we read images of landscapes past and present. Manipulating data as a painterly tool, Hoff reconsiders how material and immaterial labor factor into our digital and environmental footprint. Each turbulent painting mirrors our own habitat, but proposes it might be redefined from within.

Exhibiting artists

James Hoff


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