This artist is drawing the internet
March 25, 2016

Peter Jellitsch maps the ebbs and flow of the data clouds taken from his online browsing habits in his latest project ‘Data Drawings’

In his latest project entitled Data Drawings, Vienna-based artist Peter Jellitsch turns the impalpable streams of Internet traffic into topographical illustrations of data. With a background in Art and Architecture from the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna and recent research work into data measuring, he melds traditional methods with new technologies, translating the complex paths of digital networks into art. With Data Drawings he aims to blur the distinctions between digital and physical space, drawing the internet so as to capture the invisible yet ubiquitous movements of information that define so much of contemporary life.

To create these drawings Jellitsch uses an iPhone app to measure the data traffic surrounding him within a particular moment and space, and maps it out by hand into geometric lines and shapes. While seemingly abstract, movements of real information lie behind each curve and break of a line. These flowing waves and contours form a kind of digital geography, which describes and visualises the vast channels and clouds of data travelling constantly around us unseen.


Peter Jellitsch turns the impalpable streams of Internet traffic into topographical illustrations of data.


POSTmatter: What is your artistic background what led you to your practice today?

Peter Jellitsch: I studied at the Institute for Art & Architecture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. My interest in data measuring comes from research I did during a residency at a collector’s apartment in New York in 2011. The project was called Bleecker Street Documents and the idea was to catch a momentum of electronic coating and translate it into multiple pieces of art.


PM: What were your main ideas behind Data Drawings?

PJ: The intersection between physical and virtual space provides a huge number of new technical and narrative possibilities, and a tiny fraction of these guide my artistic process. With Data Drawings I wanted to experiment with methods that could physically map and reveal digitally hidden realities. Using technological devices I am able to literally peel-off and distinguish these invisible channels, while also leaving others in the dark.

The drawings are based on the influence of the Internet and our constant connection to it, something that has become an indispensable component of modern day life. In my work I take measurable data from Wi-Fi connections in the form of ping, download, and upload speeds and translate them into complex drawings reminiscent of landscape topographies in pencil and acrylic. Each Data Drawing is a snapshot and a survey of a specific place at a certain point in time.


With Data Drawings I wanted to experiment with methods that could physically map and reveal digitally hidden realities.


PM: What is your process in mapping and translating this data into physical drawings?

PJ: The two important factors for my drawings are the intervals and the values of the Wi-Fi connection. With this information I create diagrams, which translate the measurements into a three-dimensional topographies.


PM: Why is it important for you to blur the boundaries between physical and digital worlds in your art?

PJ: I think that my generation of artists should think of an expanded version of Walter Benjamin’s landmark essay ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’, as it is now ‘The Work of Art in the Age of the Digital Reproduction’. With my serial drawings I am trying to dissolve the borders of analog and digital worlds. Through this act my work transports information from a virtual world into a real physical space, with pencil and paper as the interface.


Peter Jellitsch's Data Drawings are on display at Galerie Clemens Gunzer in Kitzbühel from 5 March and at Le Shadok in Strasbourg from 8 March. 



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