Adam Basanta


Databases of cultural production are simultaneously the result of organizational logic, priorities, and biases, and a further reification of such value systems in the world. In the current context of institutional critique, is there more we can learn from cultural datasets and the means in which they are organized? What occurs to the status of the Individual Masterwork when a dataset is approached with a global, statistical sensibility? What emergent patterns become apparent through connections between works, or through the negative space separating one work from the next?

In Database Paintings, each image is created by aggregating pixels from freely available images of artworks, sourced from the permanent collections of The Tate, Guggenheim, and Reina Sofia Museums. Using custom software and machine learning techniques, groupings of pixels are “mosaicked” and collaged from the original artworks onto a fresh canvas, creating images that articulate a space between recognizability and emergence.

Database Paintings explores the creative possibilities of displacing simultaneously precious and meaningless image data in acts of re-appropriation and re-interpretation. Straddling the line between a celebration of its sources and their abstraction, the works provide opportunities to re-evaluate the goals of preservation itself, offering encounters with specific collection subsets, aggregated “digital fingerprints”, and the global project of art-making.