SARAH SUTTON’s monochrome paintings are a practice in worldbuilding. Two ideas that drive the focus of the work are Donna Haraway’s Sympoiesis or becoming-with and Jason W Moore’s ‘oikos’. Both concepts focus on deconstructing the binary between humans and nature and reconsidering the relationship as interconnected and symbiotic. Imagining worlds where past and present intertwine, where species are symbiotic and interdependent and the present is a palimpsest of the past, is something she strives for, with the underlying idea that images can help us learn new ways of seeing our world.
Sutton’s source material comes from zoomed in paint blobs, snippets of ink stains, digital glitches, headlines, internet searches, stills from vintage news reels on YouTube, popular ephemera such as magazines, 60’s suburban ready-made house catalogues and ads for DDT found in thrift shops, estate sales, on craigslist and eBay. Much like the process of editing a film, multiple images on a topic are collated, but then compressed, layered and collapsed into a loose historical narrative. The act of compressing multiple images into the one frame of the painting becomes a focus of the work- processes include drawing, layering images digitally and AI training as well as models and contraptions that the artist designs and ultimately the act of painting.
Glimpses of the familiar keep the eye active amidst the fractured, abstract patterns. Sutton manipulates the visual overload into a painting space using composition and mark-making to create worlds within worlds that slowly unfold upon active viewing.
A question of painting as asked by philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari is whether the hand or the ‘manual’ can keep up with the optical. This question drives her insistence on painting as medium despite using hypermediated source material. Painting visual overloads becomes a practice in integrating information and pushing the limits of perception and focus, and a meditation on the nuanced relationship between seeing and knowing; a relationship deeply complicated by our daily dependence on visual technology.