Floppy Disk Paintings and Film Negative Artworks
British artist Nick Gentry grew up with floppy disks, stored computer games on them, and swapped them with his friends. Now he uses the plastic diskettes as canvases for his creations – with spectacular success. Nick Gentry integrates obsolete technology into his artwork, primarily floppy disks and film negatives, placing an emphasis on recycling outdated media and reusing objects. While floppy disks are mostly regarded for the information they store, Gentry examines their aesthetics instead.
Floppy Disk Paintings:
A series of Generation X portraits on canvases made from used computer disks, whose metal hub serves as the subject’s profoundly un-humanlike eye. Adding to his haunting renderings are the handwritten labels, along with the disks’ original blue, black, or grey colour contributing to the composite form. The disks are sourced entirely from public donation and this series represents Gentry’s first foray into what has been described as ‘social art’.
Film Negative Artworks:
A series of portraits created from used film negatives and X-rays which have been contributed by members of the public. The negative selection process is based on tone and by layering the film he creates the contrast and shape of the faces. Gentry has also used X-rays for the darker tones, noticeably in the hair section of the images which are back lit with LED. The use of these materials alludes to a collective identity that can be viewed from both emotional and biological perspectives. He observes that “today we go to great lengths to create a digital identity in addition to the actual lives we live, with the belief that these online records are only growing in importance and will outlive us”.
“His paintings are at once archaeological and haunting…a social art project that turns form and function inside out” – Sydney Edelist, Huffington Post Arts
While the materials he works with have been rendered obsolete most of them recent relics left behind by the ever-increasing pace of technology Gentry’s found a second use for them in his social art project. Over the last four years, through his website, he’s put out a call for people to send in their old floppy disks, and most recently, x-rays and film negatives. And the packages have poured in from around the world. Through this media, he’s examining today’s state of identity, privacy, and security, especially in regard to the time and energy we put into curating a second digital identity online through social media.
“You look at some of these disks”, Gentry says, “And the labels written on there, it’s like the first status updates. They’re the first documents out there that people were sharing. It’s private stuff, but they’re still sharing it, so it’s kind of like we were just delving into that digital life.” So what are some of the more unusual early “status updates” that he’s received by way of floppy disk labels? Everything from old computer games, to baby geese, lambs, and ducks, to pornography with labels like “XXX” or “big tits.” Some of the labels have even been blacked out with a permanent marker before arriving in his studio.
“I try to let the disks show through as much as possible,” Gentry says of his painting process. “One of the most interesting things with the disks is all the labels and the things that are written on them.”
“I can see some kind of haunting beauty in these forgotten items,” says British artist Nick Gentry (@nickgentryart), about the obsolete items like computer disks, film negatives, and x-rays that he collects from strangers and then assembles into human forms. “These materials combine to form a composition of interconnected histories. In a sense none of us has a singular identity because who we are is purely the result of who we have connected with.”
Nick describes his ambivalence toward this human machinery. “There’s a certain vulnerability to being human,” he says. “We are entirely dependent on the objects we create around us, increasingly so with regard to technology. The fascinating and possibly scary part for me is that it’s almost like we are building this machine that we don’t know how to stop.”
As part of a generation that grew up surrounded by floppy disks, VHS tapes, polaroids and cassettes, he is inspired by the sociological impact of a new internet culture. His portraits use a combination of obsolete media formats, making a comment on waste culture, life cycles and identity. Using old disks as a canvas, these artefacts are combined to create photo-fits and identities that may draw connections to the personal information that is then forever locked down underneath the paint. This has led to an exploration of the ways in which humankind is integrating with technology. As it reaches a tipping point, this new movement is becoming increasingly apparent as a cultural and social transition of our time.
Nick Gentry is a British artist from London. Much of his artistic output has been generated with the use of contributed artefacts and materials. He states that through this process “contributor, artist and viewer come closer together”. His art is influenced by the development of consumerism, technology, identity and cyberculture in society, with a distinctive focus on obsolete media.
He is best known for his floppy disk paintings and film negative artworks, placing an emphasis on recycling obsolete media and the reuse of personal objects as a central theme. Such artistic works of social commentary have been featured in galleries in the UK, USA and in cities throughout the world.
Name: Floppy Disk Paintings and Film Negative Artworks
Materials: Floppy Disk, Film Negative, x-rays, wood
Theme Colour: Black & grey, soft colours
- Film negatives and oil paint on glass panel
- Vintage film negatives, x-rays, microfilm, spray paint and resin on two glass panels
- Oil paint & used computer disks on wood
- Vintage film negatives, x-rays and oil on acrylic sheets
Artist: Nick Gentry – London, United Kingdom
Representative/Agency: Opera Gallery – 134 New Bond Street, London W1S 2TF, UK
Text Description: © Courtesy of Nick Gentry, c24gallery, absoluteartgallery, infomag
Images: © Nick Gentry