"Half and Half is a Vampire Laugh"
October 7 - November 5, 2023
What was the oddest thing you imagined as a kid? Back then the world seemed unresolved, most objects and their purpose could still be magical/mysterious so that your young brain—because of lack of experience and common sense, a thing you now take for granted but is a black box of inference—produced images as “wrong” as a kid on the bus ride home whose bowl haircut hid a second pair of eyes.
This process, connecting the few things you’ve seen to predict the form of things you haven’t, is something we share with AI, which, like a child, predicts wild things, and, like a child learning, is constantly corrected by others, revising its predictions to produce, eventually, pictures that more resemble our consensus of reality. But while still in its awkward phase, AI echoes our own strange process of world building.
In his previous work, Jonathan Ehrenberg has mixed a wide range of digital and analog media to mimic the disjointed way our sensory and reflective internal/external inputs stitch together into models of self and world. In Half and Half Is a Vampire Laugh, his new exhibition at Essex Flowers, he adds AI to his materials, enlisting its help to work through bodily ailments, fatherhood, a changing self in a changing world, things that, when described to an AI, generate fingers curled up like a snail shell, sentient ice cream cones, a collection of coins from civilizations that never existed, and other manifestations of human experiences that have been and will continue to be hard to wrap our minds around, no matter how much time we’ve had to try.
Jonathan Ehrenberg’s work has been included in exhibitions at MoMA PS1, SculptureCenter, The Drawing Center, Nicelle Beauchene Gallery (New York), Futura Center (Prague), The B3 Biennial (Frankfurt), Temnikova & Kasela (Tallinn), and Nara Roesler (São Paulo). He has participated in residencies at Shandaken: Storm King, LMCC Workspace, Harvestworks, Skowhegan, Triangle, The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and Glenfiddich in Scotland, and his work has been reviewed in publications including The New York Times, The New Yorker, and Art in America. He received a BA from Brown University, and an MFA from Yale, and teaches at Lehman College, CUNY. He was born in New York, NY, where he currently lives and works.
Jonathan Ehrenberg, Snail, 2023, dye sublimation print and clay sculpture (detail), 8 x 13 x 5 inches.
Gallery hours for this exhibition: Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, 12-6pm, and by appointment. For appointments and inquiries please email email@example.com