The internet is a mystery. From humble origins as government project in the 1960s, it evolved into a vast global compendium of information and misinformation. Now people use it to relate to the world through digital devices instead of through their senses. New media theorist and provocateur, Patrick Lichty, explores this seductive, digitally mediated, alternate reality while revealing the secret inner meaning of the internet by exposing its main beneficiary after its many decades of development: cats. Yes, as its single most clicked-on topic, cats rule the internet.
Nobody knows why. Even Lichty--whose resume' includes collaborations with The Yes Men among other guerilla raids on the techno status quo -- incorporates them into his creative flow, as we see in his oddly rendered drawings like Predator vs Predator, above left, a view of a playful tabby stalking a Predator drone, or Random Internet Cat, top, a fluorescent ink feline staring raptly back at us, or Algorithmic Butterfly left. Digital artists like Lichty often utilize technological curiosities, and if these works radiate an eerie kind of EtchASketch aura, it's probably because they were made with a Makelangelo 3, a cutting edge marvel that uses advanced 3-D printer technology to facilitate drawings like something an obsessive-compulsive savant might have created on a supercharged EtchASketch. There is also a pixilated Siamese cat woven into a throw rug that he got Walmart to make. What gives? Forget al Qaeda--with Lichty's help, the clandestine feline mind control conspiracy for total world domination is obviously on a roll.
To shift from Lichty to Bob Tooke is to shift from techno-primitivism to neo-primitive technique. A former resident of Germany now based in Zwolle, Louisiana, Tooke paints colorful canvases of blues legends, kitsch and burning cars. Portraits like Lightning Hopkins at the Golden Poodle Klub are evocative classics, but his burning car canvases are strange. Most are dedicated to German pop stars--except for a flaming vintage Mercedes captioned, Adolph. Tooke is an eloquently pithy folk artist, but his burning cars are profoundly psychological if not mataphysical for the way they suggest a weird new strain of German voodoo. ~Bookhardt
The Rise of the Machines: Drawings by Patrick Lichty
The Zwolle Paintings: New Work by Bob Tooke, Through May 2, Barrister's Gallery, 2331 St. Claude Ave, 710-4506;