Puparazzi, 2009, video still
Courtesy of the artist and Gloria Maria Gallery, Milan

California based artist
Petra Cortright

December 20 2012
11:29 AM

The young American artist Petra Cortright makes gifs, jpegs, digital videos and prints that incorporate a profusion of kitsch imagery. Her work has a magpie sensibility that is attuned to the conditions of our networked environment. She is what Marc Prensky would term a “digital native”—an artist who is fluent in HTML and at home among hyperlinks. Typically, Cortright films herself enacting slight, repetitive gestures in front of a webcam, which are then overlaid with cheap digital FX. The face is often obfuscated through layers of effects, burying the artist’s identity and blurring the space between the body and environment.

Born out of what seems like an excess of time and content, there’s something narcotic about Cortright’s work. Time accelerates and slows down; it is a world where not much happens and yet everything loops over and over. There is a pervasive attempt to reinscribe the body through forms of self-representation (albeit heavily masked), as seen, say, in her recent painterly Photoshop images. Her work, like many of her peers, belongs equally online and in galleries. She pushes the technology against itself, revealing its fractures and glitches.

Cortright’s work is full of what Paul Virilio calls “Picnolepsy,” or little “epileptic lapses in concentration.” It is a bodily response to the velocity of modern life that is both dissociative and disorientating. In these loops and glitches you can see Cortright’s response to an environment where the space between production, consumption and dissemination is collapsed—a world where our lives dissolve into the computer screen, a perfect immixture of the real and the virtual. (George Vasey)

Petra Cortright will have a solo show at Gloria Maria Gallery, Milan in January