To a Flame
PLA (plastic) on panel
60 x 48 in. (152.4 x 121.92 cm)
Purchased with funds provided by Seattle Art Fair, 2019.006
Seattle-based artist Anthony White makes his “paintings” with a small machine about the size and shape of an electric toothbrush. It feeds and heats strands of colored polylactic acid (PLA), a type of plastic, in a time-intensive application process the artist compares to using a tattoo gun.
In To a Flame, White presents a layered commentary on how smart phones and social media saturate our lives and absorb our attention. White elevates an intimate but mundane scene of a man scrolling on his phone through the dramatic, high-contrast illumination of the figure, which recalls the European tradition of Baroque painting. With the inclusion of photo-editing icons placed over the image, the painting suggests that the viewer, too, is looking into a screen, underscoring the extent to which digital technologies mediate how we see one another and ourselves.