Parker Ito is a multidisciplinary artist whose work contemplates the fluidity between the virtual and the physical, using Internet culture and digital technology as part of his aesthetic vocabulary. Ito is known for his use of found and stock imagery as well as re-configuring online identities, communities, systems and paths of communication. He examines the increasingly dominant role that the Internet plays in all walks of contemporary life and suggests the alarming potential for a technological world in which humans are separate from their physical bodies.
For Ito, the advent of virtual reality questions our own reality, particularly when he finds people are able to find greater significance in their online lives. He argues that “more so now than ever, things exist in multiple versions and one is not truer than the other. Most artworks seem to look better online and lots of art objects can be underwhelming in person.”
To demonstrate the domination of digital technology and the Internet age, Ito has repeatedly staged exhibitions that have both a physical and virtual reality. His gallery exhibitions take place simultaneously in the exhibition space and online. His seminal work, RGB Forever (2012), is a looping video presenting the shifting colours of the digital palette on Photoshop. In this piece, the endless array of pixilated colour is master of all, the point of departure for the vast majority of visual products in the modern world, from fashion design to film.
In The Agony & The Ecstasy series (2013), Ito showcases a series of reflective paintings that are only discernible when the viewer voluntarily uses their camera phone to take a flash photograph of the canvas. The resulting photo reveals the actualized painting contained within the reflective material, offering a reality that exists solely within the computer monitor on which the image is observed.
The Most Infamous Girl in the History of the Internet (2010) revolves around an image that the artist stumbled across while surfing the Internet: a photo of a smiling blonde female wearing a backpack, often used on websites with expired domains. Ito asked a Chinese online painting company to produce replicas of this image, which he subsequently edited and painted over. The project comments on the nature of Internet imagery, in which fame can be achieved without effort. For Ito, the democracy and accessibility of the Internet has profoundly altered the ways in which art is now produced and consumed.
He notes: “I make work exploring the effects that Internet has had on traditional art objects. Gone is the radical Internet of the 90’s where logging off was an option. And as the Internet becomes more ubiquitous, we find ourselves in purgatory between reality mediated through the screen and reality manifested in three dimensions.”
A graduate of the California College of the Arts, Parker Ito (b.1986) has explored the Internet’s potential as a platform for exhibition, showing work virtually as rigorously as in the more traditional gallery setting. His online exhibits include Parker Ito Does Parker Ito at Pyramidd.biz (2010), Paint FX at Firefox Add-Art add-art.org (2010) and to date his numerous physical shows include *new jpegs*, Johan Berggren Gallery, Sweden (2011), RGB Forever, Adobe Books Backroom Gallery, San Francisco (2010) and most recently a series of reconstituted “painting objects” for The Agony and The Ecstasy at Stadium, New York (2012). He currently lives and works between New York and Los Angeles.