Curator’s choice

GESTURE, sign, signing, motion, motioning, wave, gesticulation. ACTION, act, move. MARK, trace, smudge, fingerprint, impression, imprint, scar, scratch, dent, line, score, cut, incision, gash. SIGNATURE, scribble, squiggle, initials. IMPRESSION, traces, effect, influence.

Each gesture constitutes a process, one might almost say a drama, of its own. The stage on which that drama is played out is the world theater, whose backdrop is the sky. On the other hand the sky is nothing more than a backdrop; studying it on its own terms would mean putting a frame around the piece of painted cloth and hanging it in a gallery. – Walter Benjamin on Franz Kafka (“The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”)

In a story on the BBC World Service “Graffiti: Why do we do it?,” researcher Rana Jarbou reminded her audience that the uprising in Syria began in 2011 when young boys graffitied an anti-Assad message in their school. The subsequent jailing and mistreatment of them caused a public outcry and resulted in a graffiti standoff between pro- and anti-Assad supporters, spreading and becoming increasingly violent. For the story, graffiti artists were interviewed and many of them stated the importance of making a mark. A mark of assertion of the individual into a public space—the public space being largely transformed into private space as it is dominated by individual wealth in the shape of architecture for the financial sector and/or political and commercial media—the mark stands against the oppression of these structures. The mark is the cut in the surface of the body of infrastructure space.

This selection investigates further the link to mark making as a political gesture in the digital world, an online infrastructure space, while being aware of the history of painting all the way back to the Parietal art known as cave painting.

How is the work of art able, despite being thoroughly ingrained in the flows of infrastructure space, to convey objection and alternative stimulation and critique that is so much needed? Or is the mark just about asserting a personal voice through the jostling madness and competition?

Ry David Bradley

Certain Film
Certain Film by Ry David Bradley

Ry David Bradley has been exploring digital mark making as it relates to the history of painting since the early 2000s. His blog PAINTED, ETC., established in 2009, has been tracking artists “informed by or informing painted practice,” e.g. utilizing technology in new creative processes referencing the painting canon, often incorporating memes, blurring distinctions between photography and paint, and increasingly employing AI. Bradley’s own work explores digitized painted traditions, especially when it comes to brushstroke sampling and painterly tropes of landscapes and portraits, as well as examining the in-betweens of abstraction and representation.

Petra Cortright

sea of snow Everest 1996

Petra Cortright, who has been called the Monet of the internet, is known for her floral and landscape paintings created by sampling images to create palates and brushstrokes on screen. In parallel, Cortright has been exploiting algorithms for attention since 2007, when she used spam keywords to raise awareness of her video artworks on YouTube. In the past decade, Cortright has found ways to combine video and painting, revealing the layered process of creating a digital painting and all its potential versions.



Miltos Manetas has been bringing together painting and computers since the mid 1990s when he painted a series of closed MacBooks for the seminal exhibition Traffic, curated by Nicolas Bourriaud. Following these paintings, technology became the focus of his work. He depicted cables, robots, and SatNavs in oil or acrylic before deciding to create work for the screen inspired by traditional formats instead. As in many of Manetas’ projects, the Floating Studio reinserted technologically influenced physical artworks into digital space, a creative process of claiming new territory.

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Sara Ludy

Moon Lake
Moon Lake by Sara Ludy

Sara Ludy is interested in how creative work seen on screen lives beyond it, in spaces imagined or unseen, speaking to a psychological response to the imagery she creates. In the past, Ludy’s works were less about gestures familiar to mark making than about the spatial creation itself, building moving environments or collections of images that referenced uncanny real world realities as seen through screens.

Sara Ludy

ekaL nooM
ekaL nooM by Sara Ludy

Moon Lake and ekaL nooM explore painterly forms while at once speaking to the nuanced differences and fragility of online environments experimenting with the interpretations of mirroring.

Priscilla Tea


Priscilla Tea’s work since the mid-2000s has been dominated by the creation of minimal, large-format oil paintings on canvas that render digital spaces in human scales. Tea’s paintings are as if avatars see spaces—expansive, abstract, and seemingly without gravity. Like built online environments, horizons are not water or air but gradients of light. In this work, Tea captures an influential scene, a perpetually incoming tide reflecting a non-existent sun and motionless sky; a calm, meditative, forgotten framing of internet creativity mimicking nature.

Rita Vitorelli with Harm van den Dorpel

Monaco Mix #94
Monaco Mix #94 by Rita Vitorelli with Harm van den Dorpel

Rita Vitorelli’s work wanders a fine line between painting and illustration, conjuring traditional motifs with the relaxedness of a doodle. Vitorelli’s work appears to be created in lucid strokes: effortless, expressive marks that often only outline the subject on blank white backgrounds, regardless of canvas, paper or code. Harm van den Dorpel created drawing software so that Vitorelli’s lines become animated in a constantly flowing state, transforming the subjects into a state of flux, emphasizing the performative, eternal gesture of mark making.

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