James Hoff uses the conventions of painting to register the circulation of digital images and information. This solo exhibition features works from his “Useless Landscapes” series (2016). Hoff took pictures of forests with a cellphone camera and then rendered the images in copper on fiberglass panels using a technique similar to the one for printing circuit boards, the hardware in cellphones and other digital devices. The landscapes mark a departure from Hoff’s recent abstract work, including a 2014 series of paintings based on digital images that he deliberately corrupted with computer viruses. Yet the nod to an older tradition of painting here also suggests a longer media history; the spotty resolution of Hoff’s metallic “Useless Landscapes” recalls the low-fi images transmitted over copper wires via telegraph. Scattered on the floor are a series of stones that Hoff painted with digitally generated camouflage patterns—the cutting-edge version of a military technology developed during World War I. Despite being positioned at our feet for direct observation in a gallery, these natural objects appear remote and unreal. —William S. Smith
Pictured: James Hoff: Useless Landscape No. 41, 2016, copper etching on fiberglass, aluminum, wood and lacquer, 48 by 32 inches. Courtesy Callicoon Fine Arts, New York.