James Duesing’s Today’s Piece tells stories about the art world with comic strips. The feelings in the three vignettes are ugly, and so are the characters—as if vanity, narcissism, and murderous callousness have materialized in a receptionist’s blade-sharp shoulders and the grotesquely hairy gut of an ogre-like dealer. If caricature and characterization blend in Duesing’s world, then figure and environment do, too. Patterns from the wood grain on floorboards repeat in hair and smoothness of walls and faces match—the uncanny results of rendering the images in a 3D animation program, drawing on the same palette of effects to make bodies and things.
Duesing has been experimenting with the narrative potential of computer-generating imagery for decades. His 1990 film Maxwell’s Demon is recognized as one of the earliest examples of using a desktop computing program for artistic animation. Though Duesing’s work is constantly absorbing new tools, his set of themes remains steady: the amplification of fears and fantasies through technology, media, and consumer culture, often to surreal, science-fiction ends. So it is in Today’s Piece, where the art market’s sites and systems become an instrument for characters looking for opportunities to exploit each other. - Brian Droitcour