The work of Australian-born, Austrian-based artist Andy Boot is both complex and intriguing; as humankind oscillates between realities that are lived and realities that are experienced online, Boot’s conceptual objects and paintings offer a physical expression of the disembodied digital world.
Despite the future-heavy content of his practice, Boot works predominantly in the traditional mediums of painting and sculpture, whilst also having published books and co-founded Cointemporary, the world’s first bitcoin gallery. Across formats, his work is united by the connection it draws between digital and physical landscapes: “I pick up fragments and details of our current situation and bring them from the ephemeral world of the internet into physical spaces”, he explained in an interview with Indechs. The works featured below exemplify this.
Crafted from wire mesh and concrete, his sculptural pieces from the exhibition ‘CC’ initially present as minimalist material explorations. On closer inspection, their relationship to the digital realm is revealed. The wire mesh has been colored using patterned backgrounds from the now-defunct GeoCities. This web-hosting service allowed site users to create their own pages with customized backgrounds and gifs that were then situated in online “cities” which aligned with their content; Area51 was where you would find websites pertaining to science fiction and fantasy, Hollywood for films and actors, and WallStreet for business and finance.
Boot’s ‘Cosmic Latte’ works are similarly inspired by the strangeness of the internet and its connection to reality. In 2002, astronomers from Johns Hopkins University surveyed the light of over 200,000 galaxies and determined the average color of the universe as being a beige off-white. They named this colored hue cosmic latte. With this information in hand, Boot trawled the internet and traced areas of images where the color appeared. These irregular shapes were then laser cut into wood, and combined in threes and fours to create sculptures that Boot describes as being “average color-of-the-universe works”. Both beautiful and banal, these pieces look like modernist abstractions; their strange milky-colored forms are reminiscent of Alexander Calder’s monumental metal sculptures.
Boot has also worked with the mint green that the same team of astronomers announced was the average color of the universe in 2001. But where the pieces colored in cosmic latte are shapes, the pieces colored in mint are outlines from which the shapes have been removed, presenting as such: the universe, the subtraction of the universe, and the aether beyond the universe.