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Iconoclash #24

Iconoclash #24

Clement Valla / Erik Berglin
Iconoclash #24, 2013
Archival inkjet print
44 x 36 inches

Ruane Center for the Humanities, Second Floor

About the Work

Erik Berglin and Clement Valla’s Iconoclashes show digital mash-ups of objects from various time periods and cultures and represent a multiplicity of religions. The artists’ starting point for the creation of these images was the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s public web archive; specifically all photographs of artifacts tagged with the keywords God. The source images were then randomly grouped and digitally merged with a Photomerge script inside Adobe Photoshop. The script is a common algorithm used to stitch separate images together into longer panoramas. In the case of Iconoclashes, the script blends the God-tagged images together, creating chimeric deities, hybrid talismans, and surreal stellae, statues and gods. The process and the resultant works reveal an allegorical duality. On the one hand, the photographs show, with the aid of technology, the endless possibilities for storing, accessing, and making new meaning from the past. On the other, they show that cultural heritage, especially that which is sacred to us, has to be tended to carefully or risk being misunderstood, perhaps even lost to the algorithm.