Based on graphic video games, a new generation of artists are bringing a digital aesthetic to the fore, thus taking a fresh look at reality in a parallel world. John White C., a seasoned video game aficionado*, sits comfortably within this group and revels in the art making possibilities generated from his avocation. His new series Offworld Behavior is based on the popular god role-play game “Black & White” – in which each player plays god in a virtual world where fantastical creatures play a significant role. The player decides whether the creatures will be good or evil, and based on that, builds or destroys villages infiltrating into other players territories online. The gesture-based interface offers no on-screen menus, making the act of “painting” with a mouse integral to the game – a fact not lost on the artist. The “stock” landscapes that the game provides are a mix of idyllic pastoral scenes to medieval and even prehistoric settings. The series includes a limited number of John’s favorite stills (and some large scale creature “portraits”) printed on paper with ink jet dye that are then painted back into with watercolor pigment – thus the term “digital watercolors.” John was trained as a traditional painter and used his skills totally within the confines of the computer for his past work, including the beautiful and painterly “girls” from the Complete + Verified series recently exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago of appropriated Eastern European soft-core erotic images from the internet that were cropped, filtered and painted using Photoshop. Now he has turned the tables on technology, not only painting with the computer but also hand-manipulating the digitally rendered surfaces conjuring unique results.
John White C. (b. Connecticut 1974) lives in Chicago and received his MFA in painting from The School of The Art Institute of Chicago in 2001. Selected exhibitions include “Scanner” curated by Larry Rinder at CCAC in 2000, Tirana Biennale online and at Deitch Projects curated by Miltos Manetas in 2001, his first solo show at the Museum of Contemporary Art in 2002 curated by Monika Gehlawat, and a project booth at Art Chicago 2002 curated by MCA’s Dominic Molon and artist Gaylen Gerber featuring his laptop generated Flight Simulator/Travel Log. *John was Midwest 1 vs.1 Quake 3 Arena Champion of 2000, Captain/Leader/Rail gun specialist of Quake 3 Arena Team death match clan “HELL INTERFACE” (#1 in America on the Online Gaming League for 2001), and most recently 0wn3d had some lively wins over artist Feng Mengbo in his show at the Renaissance Society.