In Action Painting, gestures are extracted from action film sequences (car chase movies, fight scenes, explosions, etc.) and used as material to compose digital paintings in the abstract expressionist style of Jackson Pollock. Pun intended.
This series of works uses popular action sequences from cinema - when Jason Bourne drives backwards through the streets of Paris in a nail-biting police chase, when the underdog Rocky Balboa battles Apollo Creed, when a helicopter chases a high speed train through a tunnel in Mission Impossible. It takes these sequences from the adrenalin-filled culture of action cinema and playfully transplants them into the highbrow cannon of modernist painting.
Action Painting runs with custom authored software (written in C++ with openFrameworks) that uses computer vision to analyze movies for motion. For each frame of video, the software samples the changed pixels, saving them to the computer’s memory. It then rearranges all the sampled pixels on screen to compose a series of abstract expressionist images, which are presented as large format prints and video installations.
In art history, action painting falls into the category of process-based works, for which use rule sets and conceptual structures for composition and where the process maintains a more important role than the final outcome. This project follows that same tradition.
The process of Action Painting is revealed to the viewer on a screen hanging slightly below each composition. Each ‘gesture’ taken from a film (i.e. a car taking a sharp turn, or an upper cut punch) is displayed, then extracted from the frame, and finally transformed into a motion that applies color onto a virtual canvas.
This work not only appropriates the cinematic gesture to use it as a compositional tool, but also highlights the cinematic language used in action films.