Jo McGarry

b. 1993

London, UK

BA(Hons), Fine Art Central Saint Martins, London 2013- 2016

MFA Fine Art Media, Slade School of Art (UCL), London 2019-

Throughout time, artists have used different media - oil on canvas, tempura, video, performance etc. - in an attempt to find ways that best represent, filter and understand the world around us. How do we see it, and how do we exist in it? From a medieval viewpoint there are non-linear, cartoon-like altarpieces, with stylised spacial hierarchies, or the representational portraits of Hans Holbein (1497-1543) - a person frozen in a moment of time, immaculately rendered, almost photographic. Contrast these examples with Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase No.2 (1912) which seeks to redefine temporal representation and disrupt perception of viewpoints and space or using virtual space and programs, like game engines and 3D modelling software, we can quite literally capture infinite viewpoints in a space in realtime.

Much of the environment that surrounds us now no longer exists in a traditional physical, “real” way.

At a basic level, we identify with virtual media as a means to simulate aspects of our reality, in blockbuster CGI or in the realm of AAA big budget computer gaming. 

But the virtual pervades every aspect of our environment and consciousness insidiously and relentlessly. It’s increasingly intertwined with the “actual” - and arguably the distinction between the real and the virtual, the actual and non-actual, is becoming less relevant. The digital is not simply a tool to simulate reality but maybe and extension of realities.

The materiality of data increasingly intertwines with the “actual” material world  - ‘a world that is already falling apart, all around us, precisely because digital tools have started to destroy all its technical, social, and economic foundations’. 

 It is this intermingling with ‘old’ and ‘new’ media which I think provides an opportunity for new insights into this changing landscape, and why most of my projects use everything from oil on canvas paintings to Unity game engine programs. I want to make work which tries to engage with the new realties developing - I want to look beyond the rear view mirror and through the looking glass.