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Our pocket devices give us instant access to whatever we want: addictive little TikToks, one-click shopping, creepy Reddit clickholes, butt pics… Visions of the past, present, and future live inside our hands and pockets, but what’s it all for? This contradictory connectivity is often a theme in Limited Liability, a nighttime-inspired suite of works by artist Anthony White now up at the Seattle Art Museum.
White is the museum’s 2021 Betty Bowen Award winner, and his paintings are delirious, colorful, and collage-like. They reference the ancient and recent past, and he makes them with polylactic acid, the same plastic material used in 3-D printing. A handheld machine that looks like a hot glue gun warms up and makes the material pliable, creating paintings that are both textile and digital in their sensibility.
We recommend getting lost in White’s details. When visiting, take a look at “WAYBACK MACHINE.” You’ll see birds of paradise anchoring the middle of a composition filled with playing cards, a Sky Dancer, a Modelo Caprisun, a Kenny from South Park sticker, and the defunct Ask Jeeves logo. In “MURPHY’S LAW,” a figure reaches for his phone just as its camera’s flash goes off. The painting’s edges resemble a phone screen, but there are bubbles toward the center of the image, a symbol of life’s transience. It all accurately captures the electric dysphoria of living in an increasingly online world.
📸: Anthony White