Chris S. Johnson: After the Ache

  • ©,



    After the Ache


Creation Year:



    Duratrans, fluorescent lights (lightbox)


    36" X 28"



Artist Statement:

    There was a lifeguard. Given the lives of hundreds of children, but too young to vote or drink, the lifeguard was searching for his/her identity, where it belonged in the world. His/her soul was held out like a decorated cake constructed from the basic elements of life. The lifeguard continues on a journey not knowing what it will encounter next. Symbols of society bombard the lifeguard, and stories are told.

    My images use a modern saint: the lifeguard. Through the journeys of the lifeguard, the images discuss the intricate connections holding our lives together. There are things that surround us, and contradictions abound in our society. Today, we no longer pray to a god, but to computers. They have become our new religion. We rely on the machines for the lifeblood of our society. Why is it that we are so fascinated by the computer?

    I use computer art to not only question our society, but to question the viewer’s belief in the art object. Computer art exists not on any known natural plane. An image is reached by entering a maze of directories. I find this similar to cave painters who searched their way back to the sacred images. Once there, the image is almost alive.

    Today, the computer stores a 3D rendering, a multimedia piece, an installation, a movie special effect, a scientific picture of an organism, and two-dimensional images until the moment when it is given life. It may exist only for a brief moment on the screen, or sometimes longer when printed. Computer images appear on the screen, on celluloid, and in printed form.

    My work embodies a zealous devotion to computer imaging. Each piece brings a new discovery. Duratrans in lightboxes project light toward the viewer, recreating the journey from the monitor to the eye. Light engulfs the room, leaving a powerful and beautiful effect on the viewer.

    I was interested in art long before I can remember; my interest in computers began in the fourth grade. That year, I programmed squares and lines to create images not unlike an etch-a-sketch. On a Tuesday in 1984, we got a Macintosh 128k computer and MacDraw. My interest in computers and art continued into college. I took printmaking, painting, sculpture, and photography. In 1991, I began using Fractal Design Painter and the WACOM tablet to create my images. They closely simulated the feeling that I was used to.

    My images and discourse matured during two years of graduate work at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I create images that incorporate metal, wood, fabric, and on eclectic mix of output options. Now, in teaching digital art at Northern Arizona University, I constantly challenge myself and my students to embrace this new medium to the fullest.