Charlotte Johannesson, one of the artists on display at the 59th Biennale Arte in Venice, presents her work as an oxymoronic example of how a traditional technique such as that of weaving manages to find its new dimension within technological and IT developments, apparently so distant. Looking at Pixel Dream (1981) one has the distinct feeling of being in front of an artefact with an uncertain origin: printing on plotter restores a certain materiality to the pixels which together take on an almost textile appearance. Johannesson is in fact able to apply the vertical and horizontal development of the frame, which has always been part of his methodology since the 1960s, to computer programming languages. This small-sized work becomes an example of the progressive development of the artist’s practice that combines the interest in art craftsmanship with technological experimentation: with an almost pioneering attitude, the action of translation from an instrument to the other leads to a mixture of different languages.

A mermaid dances on this surface made of binary codes, on her right a human figure seems intent on typing the keys of a piano or perhaps a computer or even weaving on a loom: Pixel Dream becomes the emblem of the artist’s process. Without stopping on the possible frictions but rather turning to the potential of the meeting of these techniques, Johannesson uses digital programming to generate patterns and color grids thus giving free interpretation to her feminist thought: the mermaid looks at the observer and smiles at him as if ahead she can see a thriving future made up of convergences rather than clashes.

The artist’s practice that over the years has developed under the banner of constant experimentation in which the image and its nature are constantly turned around and removed from any static or limiting classification. Furthermore, Pixel Dream is the celebration of the pixel intended as a point, as a node in which different information (be it a thread or a string of numbers) come together in the generation of new imaginaries.


Charlotte Johannesson
Pixel Dream, 1981-1986, Plotter print, 42x52cm
Courtesy l’artista, Hollubush Gardens, London
© Charlotte Johannesson
Photo by Marco Cappelletti, Courtesy La Biennale di Venezia