The multimedia practice of Jeff Zilm (b. 1958, Iowa City, IA) investigates the slippage between technological platforms and ways in which they are consumed and decoded in the social realm. His best known ‘Film Paintings’ take as their starting point the physical properties of film stock and cinema as a medium. Like the Structural filmmakers of the 1960s, Zilm emphasizes the materiality of film and its apparatus. For over a decade the artist has sourced 8mm, 16mm and 35mm black and white films for this ongoing project. Using a homemade bath, he chemically destabilises the emulsion so that the filmic image and optical sound track from the reels of celluloid can be individually extracted. The film, once fully extricated and finally in a liquid state, is then transcribed in its entirety onto a single canvas.
Fascinated by the ubiquitous presence of the screen in both private and public realms, Zilm’s work seeks to express the varying relationships that exist between analogue and digital, subject and object, data and fact. Knowingly drawing on these multiple histories, positions and relations, both materially and conceptually, Zilm poses provocative questions regarding the evolving role of painting and the technical image in a society obsessed by privacy and control. His interest in engaging with text, virtual realities and the specific narrative structures adopted online is directly explored in series such as ‘Cheats’ and ‘Password Paintings’, both of which continue the artist’s engagement with screen-mediated culture by deconstructing the language used to navigate digital realities.