Jack Warne’s multimedia practice sits across art, animation, sculpture, music and performance. The lush, painterly abstraction of his digital composites, frenetic augmented reality animations and dense soundscapes, provide different points of entry for his audience, but originate from his distinct perspective. All are represented by his avatar Gaunt – a digitally rendered suit of armour.
At a time when AI and surveillance technologies are both a source of real change and popular paranoia, Warne is fascinated by the imperfections and glitches of computer vision. In his artworks, digital simulations designed to render real life surface effects are subverted as he deconstructs, collages and manipulates photographic source material. Visceral compositions are produced in which the real underpinnings eek through in skin tones or shadowy structural elements.
These half-glimpsed scenes, in which light plays against form, echo impressionistic painters from the last century. However, the effects Warne conjures originate closer to home. Suffering from an hereditary disease of the cornea called Thiele Behnke Corneal Dystrophy he lost his vision at the age of four. Painful hypersensitivity to light meant periods spent in complete darkness. Look through almost entirely closed eyes and you enter Warne’s flickering world.
Warne’s father shared his condition and Warne’s world is shaped by his impact. “Gaunt was my dad’s World of Warcraft character name”. The two often played the hugely popular role-playing game together, when the artist was growing up. His father was also key in Warne’s musical journey, playing him Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, while he was suffering one of his painful episodes, “That undoubtedly was done of the most consciously profound musical moments of my life,” Warne says, “It sparked my love of music and technology.”
This autobiographical detail also guides Warne’s choice of source material. He incorporates archival images and audio of family life in his work. Personal and intimate, they also speak to the pervasive nature of technology in the contemporary home.
Yet, computers are fallible man-made machines. Physical malfunction has fed into Warne’s interest and exploration of digital error. There is a catharsis in exploring his past trauma in his art. He embraces technology’s creative potential but also hacks it. The armour of the Gaunt character gives him the protection he needs for the journey.
Although forged in a virtual world, Warne’s artworks are made to be encountered in person. Wrapped and overlayered on large frames, they are often printed on a composited surface crafted from a variety of domestic materials; such as foam, carpet, tile adhesive and curtains. These painterly canvases stand on their own merits. However, they spring to life with augmented reality animations activated via QR codes. Each visual loop breathes life into the picture surface, pulling apart the structural underpinnings, zooming in and out, mixing and exploring the layers of composite imagery. These distortions are mirrored in audio collages of voices and metallic feedback which fizz with a disorientating energy. Warne’s digital portals pull us momentarily down the rabbit hole into Gaunt’s immersive and hallucinatory world.
Warne releases his album Blind at the Age of Four this Autumn.
Selected exhibitions include Behold, Hypha Studios, London (2023) ; Mirage Genesis, New York (2023) ; Perfect Partner in the Near Future, YUELAI Art Museum, Chongqing, China (2022-2023) ; Worm At the Core, SET, London (2022) ; In Crystallized Time, MoM, Seattle, 2021 ; Rtapte, Castor Gallery, London (2021) ; Old Friends, New Friends, Collective Ending, London (2021); 06, PM/ AM, London (2020-2021); In Our Blood, I Thought You Were Dancing?, Limbo, London (2020); Terra Nexus, Proposition Studios, London (2020); Graduate Show, Royal College Of Art, London (2019); Reverse Landscape, Hannah Barry Gallery, London (2019); Relay, Fitzrovia Gallery, London (2019); I Like Your Work, Royal College Of Art, London (2018); Capital, Barbican Centre, London (2018); Digital Makers Collective, Tate Modern, London (2017); London Design Festival, London College of Communication, London (2017); Perfume Synaesthesia Late, Somerset House, London (2017); and Neuroscience & Diversity, Victoria & Albert Museum, London (2017).