John F. Simon, Jr. (b. 1963, lives in New York)
Automata Studies, 2002
Software, Apple Powerbook G3, acrylic
A pioneer in digital art, John Simon is one of the few artists who not only uses the computer as a tool but also knows how to program it and design software. He merges both vocations in Automata Studies, an abstract exploration of movement, pattern, and color in six quadrants. Presented on a flat LCD monitor (actually a disassembled Mac screen bought on e-Bay) mounted on Plexigas, Automata Studies is essentially a software-driven drawing that undergoes millions of permutations without ever repeating itself. While Simon's technology is cutting-edge, his sensibilityólike his systematic approach to form and coloróis grounded in early Modernism. His heroes are Mondrian, Klee, and Kandinsky, artists who demonstrated that art could be both analytical and beautiful. In a sense, Simon continues the tradition of these masters as well as that of the 1960s Conceptualists whose works involved interactivity, intangibility, ephemerality, and chance. Simon's complex and visually stunning Automata Studies raises expectations for the possibilities of new information technologies and simultaneously expands our expectations of fine art.
In addition to solo exhibitions at Site Santa Fe, The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, and the University of Iowa Museum, Simon's work has been included in numerous prestigious group exhibitions across the globe, from the Seoul Museum of Art in South Korea to the Whitney Museum and Guggenheim in New York.