MELT Week: Gretchen Andrew

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Gretchen Andrew used to work for Google.

MELT Week is new this year.

Things change.

In a talk with London Film School, American artist Gretchen expounded on how she brought a bit of Silicon Valley to London with her. Often working with Google Glass, filming herself or being filmed and creating video art and GIFs, Gretchen is one of the contemporary artists who really embraces new media and more than that; explores with it.

“How To…” videos on Youtube are a particular interest of hers; since she said that a lot of her own techniques were learned by watching tutorials. In general, she has a fascination with how much the internet can teach us in terms of new skills. Researching the age-old question of whether art is a product of genetic talent or taught craft, Gretchen, who says she definitely had no natural affinity with art as a child, now makes her living as an artist. So how much more could we be adding to ourselves; achieving new skills through the internet?

In a bid to continue exploring our own narratives, how we build and unmake our stories, Gretchen began to look at GIFs, which she says by nature have no real narrative. “They’re relentless” she laughs, explaining that GIFs are the perfect medium to explore the idea of non-narrative.

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Though this is difficult; distilling something down to one moment or removing thought from any story, object or action is something not just Gretchen Andrew, but philosophers and scholars have been grappling with for goodness knows how long. Are GIFs really the answer to isolating a moment? Perhaps. Perhaps it’s her physical paintings that end up being non-narrative, since looking at one of her canvases does not immediately imbue you with the background of her research and digital work. At first, you only see the artwork. You cannot download it’s story into your brain.

Although she often places images side by side, or intercuts videos with viewpoints from different angles, in her physical paintings we can only look at them in the old-fashioned way; as they are. No narrative can be imposed on them except our own, unless we start reading the blurb or find out about Gretchen the person, not just the painter.

In any case; an utterly mind-bending (…dare I say melting?!) topic and delicious in all its thematic intricacies! I’m sure the discussion could have gone on and on and on… So I’ll have to leave the questions with you to ponder…

MELT Week continues, please feel free to look at the events here

Follow Gretchen Andrew here

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