Distortion: why does it rule? Back in 1936, Walter Benjamin famously theorized that our desire to have the work of art, that thing of mysterious origin and affecting beauty up close, to bring it into our comfortable private space on our own terms we are only too happy to accept the reproduction. The fact that this pretty much always entails a disruption of its original (some might say “pure”) form is a necessary compromise in this never-ending pursuit of personal aesthetic fulfillment. Most of us would gladly take a low-resolution jpeg of Justin Bieber into our home before the artist himself. Though imperfect, static, and two-dimensional it’s just a lot more manageable.
Artists like Cédric Fargues take delight in this kind of degeneration. If what we can get from the original source is always kind of fucked up from the start, why not fuck it up in a way that’s pleasing to our sensibilities? He uses Photoshop (or some analogous image editing software) in the same way psych bands use guitar effects pedals: not as a substitute for authenticity, but as an enhancement, as a style. His works fluctuate between too-pristine garden ornaments and melting, swirling celebrity portraits, all of which are suspended over a stoic digital dreamscape. If words can’t express what you’re feeling how about a virtual flowa?
Destroy all icons. Arrange your environment with utter precision and then launch it into the infinite isolation of space. If we can’t have everything we desire, at least we have the wonderfully off-putting simulated realities of Cédric Fargues.