January 2020 Unicorn Of The Month: David Temchulla

Years ago I had a conversation with Wayne Theibaud about Bruce Nauman at UC Davis in the 1960's. When I asked him what he thought of Bruce's work at the time he answered, " We didn't know what the hell to think. It was so far out there, we weren't even sure if it was art...but we did know he was carving his own path. It was exciting, but it was also scary."

That is the way I felt about the art of David Temchulla. When I saw David's work at The Vermont Studio Center back in early November, I was filled with awe and panic. Have you ever met someone with ideas that were so beyond what you have ever considered that it made you uncomfortable? Have you ever seen an exhibition that filled you with joy one minute and then sheer anxiety the next? I enjoy what I do and I am excited about my current direction, but I'll be honest, I'm just moving paint around on a canvas. I am using technology and techniques that haven't changed in hundreds of years. Sure, I have colors that have only become available through certain technological advances, but David is out here really pushing the boundaries. David is at the intersection of art and technology, and not it an ironic Brad Troemel trolling meme, hipster way either. 

Cosmic Breath, pictured below, was the piece that really caught my attention. The "cyborg wheat field" is activated by blowing into a form the looks like it could be synthetic beehive, which then activates a microcontroller which in turn activate motors that move the wheat.

The interactive sculpture brings to mind Amber Waves Of Grain, and in my opinion, questions notions of inclusivity in the context of the current political climate. Or is David commenting on the desire to re­animate the American Dream? Is he asking people to question how they participate in civic life? Or is he commenting on the impending planetary collapse of the natural environment? I suspect it all of those things. 

His newest body of work has me convinced that David is the real life Dr. Miles Dyson. If you don't know the reference, Dr. Miles Dyson was the director of special projects at Cyberdyne whose research leads to the formation of Skynet, the omnipresent, all humans must die, AI program from the Terminator movie franchise.

David is currently showing SAME/SAME as part of his latest art residency at CAMPO in Uruguay.

"In 2006 Argentinian polo player Adolfo Cambiaso’s most prized horse, Aiken Cura, broke his leg on the field of play. A fatal injury, Cambiaso was forced to euthanize the stallion, but not before saving several of his skin cells that would be needed to bring Cura back to life."

"Four years later, in collaboration with Crestview Genetics that licensed the cloning technology used to create Dolly the sheep, this dream became a reality when Cura’s cells were used to create three identical replicas. Since then, Cambiaso has gone on to clone his other fabled mare Cuartetera over a dozen times. In 2016, Cambiaso’s team won the prestigious Campeonato Argentino Abierto de Polo, with Cambiaso riding six genetically identical Cuartetera clones. Polo - the ancient “game of kings” - has found itself on the frontier of cloning technology."

"Our time, marked by increased velocity towards the virtual and inorganic, places Cuartetera at the center of this new paradigm. In SAME/SAME hundreds of images online of Cuartetera and its clones have been collected and run through a Deep Convolutional Generative Adversarial Network (DCGAN). This deep learning architecture analyzes the genetic makeup of these images and then attempts to create duplicate images based on the data from the original training set. The final result is a series of entirely new images of Cuartetera as seen by computer vision and artificial intelligence, addressing the changing status of the image and our reality in an increasingly automated world."

To view more of David's work, check out his Website and his Instagram Page


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