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Who Is This?

About the Artist

About the Artist

Thomas Brodhead, born 1968 in St. Louis, Missouri, studied classical music composition, theory, and history during his college years in Oberlin, Ohio, all the while (on paper, at least) pursuing a B.A. in standard political history and philosophy. He then worked for over twenty years in classical music publishing as a music engraver, setting orchestral sheet music for print publication using original computer programs of his own creation. Concurrently, he worked as a musicologist of the American composer Charles Ives, and he produced a new and definitive performing edition of Ives’s massive Fourth Symphony (a works so rhythmically complex that it requires 2 or 3 conductors working in tandem) that was premiered at the Lucerne Festival in 2012.

His work on visual art began as a pastime in 2009, first as a humorous commentary on modern art and some of its theory-before-practice conventions (the correlatives of which he had confronted in the classical music world since his student days). Over time, his visual artwork transformed into a serious commentary on transhumanism and his own perception of the digital infantilization of humankind in the 21st century.

Balancing the constraints of established rules against the need for free-form editing is the bedrock of music engraving, an unsung craft: it requires concentration, attention to detail, and sensitivity to the harmonious arrangement of visual patterns. Brodhead’s diligence in that industry was a prelude to the things at the fore of his visual artwork, in which the pixelations of RGB computer displays are mirrored in an otherwise childlike pantomime of paint-by-numbers serialism.

Artist Statement: Addendum I, 2016

Artist Statement: Addendum I, 2016

More frightful than our own devolution into infantilism is the concomitant progression of technology that accelerates transhumanism, itself part and parcel of our transformation. For now we see through a glass electronically, one that reflects back the pixelated bytes of our dissociation from the wellspring of flesh that is, in fact, our life. And so it follows that our vision breaks all colors into their constituent parts, making a mosaic whose total may only be apprehended from a distance that we may no longer achieve with ease. Beauty is evanescent: take what pleasure you can from it with what brief encounters it provides you, lest the URL suddenly change.

—Thomas M. Brodhead, 14 February 2016

Artist Statement: 2014

Artist Statement: 2014

Despite their efforts to the contrary, the abstract expressionist artists of the 20th century failed in their attempt to create visual works unfit for homes and places of casual viewing. Since their creations spoke directly to the core of the human experience, and especially to its horrors denuded so completely by the World Wars, their works rightfully belonged in venues where viewers could contemplate their meanings in quasi-religious silence.

It is ironic, therefore, that these pieces now adorn the hearths of humans of all social strata in the First World, providing neutral background noise among the fineries and finishes of the modern dwelling space—a space so overvalued that the world economy nearly collapsed from its hubris in 2008. And in this cowardly new world full of money-mongering, prideful hominids—especially among the ugly Americans, electronically connected but spiritually vapid—art has regressed into conventions of false pleasantries: regardless of its locus along the axis connecting the abstract to the representational, first-world viewers only seek works that reinforce a false reality.

For them, art masks their actual state within an overcrowded orb filled with disease, poverty, and septic living conditions that billions of beings endure in order to allow the American Dream to spread metastatically through all populations with any wealth whatsoever. It is therefore an insult to humanity for art to ignore this reality.

By presenting images that are merely soothing to the eye—without any thesis of what Western Man has become—contemporary art participates in a group hypnosis sponsored by commerce and effected by technology. An individual life is meaningless in this context, as anything unpleasant may be switched off or be replaced with a more soothing image simply by moving from one URL to another. We are insidiously inured to all that should rightfully be shocking and paradigm-shifting to us, but instead, tragically, these things only function as entertainment to us.

With this devaluation of human life—the central and most horrifying effect of our electronic culture—comes the New Man: a callow child of immeasurable immaturity, one whose tantric tantrums reveal a cartoonish soul devoid of depth, wedded to greed, and inseparable from the material. The artist must create works that expose this inner child turned outer monster, a truer representation of the heavyweight primate that dominates this world in a bubble of wealth-shielded ignorance.

The gauntlet is thrown before the viewer to dare consider each of the artist's works as a mirror on which to scry the Western soul. We must summon the courage to discard all that is merely pleasant to behold (on a living-room wall, hung above fine furniture, of course) in favor of what is truthful and revealing about ourselves. Art must speak to the unpleasant reality of who WE have become, and it must challenge us to consider our shameful, immature, and self-absorbed state as frightful children with fully-developed sexual appendages: we are but feral beasts of insatiable appetite for cancerous consumption in every imaginable category.

So, there. How ‘bout dem apples?

—Thomas M. Brodhead, 14 November 2014