Artist Spotlight: Kate Biel

This week’s StandardVision artist spotlight on the SVLA1 screen at the Marriott Courtyard Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles features Los Angeles-based photographer Kate Biel. Biel is the latest artist to be invited to take over the two-week-long recurring 15-second spot to showcase her work to the public. Her selected photographs will be on view through February 11.

How did your interest in photography start?

It’s hard to pinpoint how I exactly got into photography but I believe it stemmed from a deep desire to preserve my memories as well as finding a much needed outlet for what I was experiencing but couldn’t properly convey in words. By high school, I began to learn dark room photography. I had the most brilliant, manic photo teacher that I still consider a close friend. He pushed me and really believed in what I was creating.

With contemporary photography and the rise of social media as an artistic platform to show work, it feels like we’re on visual overload. Do you think that social media will continue to have such a large role in future artistic projects? And how do you feel about the visual overload?

How we view art now mainly through social media, images are feeling more two dimensional than ever before. We are less likely to visit a piece in a studio, gallery or museum and analyze its physical properties such as texture, size, and depth. We are even less likely to seek out reproductions of these images in books where we can touch or even scratch the reproduction with our finger. Instead we are separated by a precious illuminated screen that not only removes us further from an artwork but also alters its color and light with our phone’s LCD qualities. Many artists I know refuse to share their work via social media, something I can admire but also see as futile. Social media isn’t going away – it will change – but it won’t vanish. People will continue to depend on it, so for artists to remain relevant, we will also have to embrace this new landscape.

In terms of visual overload, images are seeing a decline in importance. Instead of being desired, they are expected. And not through simply over-sharing, but in the numerous ways the internet is trying to market from our experiences. Through the constant change of chronological order in social media platforms to the FCC’s decision on ending net neutrality, our images are becoming less sacred and more as marketing tools embedded in our personal lives. Furthermore, images are feeling more fleeting. We build this temporary relationship with them and “save” them but rarely do we consistently revisit them. When taking a picture with our phone we take multiple shots as if the more we click the shutter of the same static angle the more accurately the moment will be captured. Before this overwhelming flood of imagery, we had to trust our memory and appreciate the details more.

Can you tell us more about the series on view and what your concept behind it is?

With an over saturated easily accessible imagery market, images themselves lose their meaning and something else takes its place. In this series, I’m coming to terms with this both consciously and unconsciously. More than ever we use social media to only project a heavily curated fraction of our lives so perhaps it’s only natural to expect the images themselves to follow suit. While we as artists acclimate with the ever-changing dialogue of what makes a powerful and memorable image in this unchartered technological territory, I aim to create images that grapple between feeding into the illusion of curated perfection while simultaneously demanding to be freed from it. I am intrigued with exploring a hysterical discomfort involving only color and obfuscated forms – causing a ‘violent’ sensation rather than representation based solely on reaction and expression. Through the large fields of color and shallow depth of field, I allow the figure – or what remains – to detach itself and cause dissolving interference through the fields. As if to escape and flow beyond itself and its two dimensional isolated reality. To me, this is what causes the static violence I experience as I witness the encroachment of our online identities claiming importance over all else in our lives.

Who/what/where inspires you most lately?

I’m a big fan of Maja Djordjevic’s paintings. Her work is nostalgic to my earliest interactions with art making and how, even then, they were informed through a technological interface. On the family computer, using Microsoft Paint, I “painted” through this program before going to elementary school and learning how to work with real paint. I was entranced by how the purely digital cyan, magenta, and yellow paint strokes would illuminate on the screen. Yet the moment they were printed out, I was disappointed. No longer was there the luminescent power they previously demanded.

Stay up to date with Kate and see more of her work on her Instagram and website.