Born in Rochester, New York
Resides in Brooklyn, New York
The world is at a visual crossroads now more than ever. The gray area between virtual and real expands on both sides as our daily lives are inundated with AR, VR, and near-constant screen time. Michael DeLucia’s multi-faceted practice problematizes this divide by activating a sculptural trompe-l’oeil where theoretical solids are made whole and ordinary materials are imbued with digital traces. Employing everything from simple plywood, to readymade industrial items, to intricately carved expanded polystyrene, DeLucia extracts two separate modes of recognition from his audience. On one hand, we see the construction materials, trashcans, and defaced posters as distinctly urban and evocative of a space of continual social movement and growth. But on the other hand, these usually shoddy or rough materials are worked into precise patterns and mathematical shapes that are more at home in rendering software than a worksite. These two sides of DeLucia’s practice expand on the legacy of Minimalism while also tackling today’s hybrid lifestyle. Works like The Round Sound (2012) appear to be peeling advertisements, but a closer look reveals immaculately plotted destruction that allows the CNC machine to stand in for the artist’s hand. Spool (perspective), a drawing from 2011, brings 3D rendering from CAD software into the physical realm by replicating on paper its previously-digital forebearer. Forcing the virtual to collide violently with the inherent physicality of real world matter, DeLucia asks us to reexamine our own understanding of the digital divide.
DeLucia’s sculptural incursions transform the everyday into optically immersive works, but sometimes the quotidian nature of his materials has a more direct relationship to the digital sphere than first realized. In his 2010 untitled public sculpture at Brooklyn’s MetroTech Center, the crisscrossing wires on a series of chainlink fences created a visual shift akin to a moiré pattern on a screen. This presented a physical barrier that begged the audience to dissociate its construction from the bevy of similar fences used around the city while also pushing the analogy of the computer screen as a fence around digital work. By using layers of metal and space, DeLucia crafted a biting commentary on physical and visual barriers. This methodical play with such symbolism is where the artist’s practice thrives. His works’ ability to simultaneously occupy physical and abstract realms so at odds with each other creates a dichotomy flush with evocative energy. By creating a conversation centered in both the urban space and the underlying effects of increasing screentime, the installation brought attention to itself and a wider perspective.
Even in their construction, works like Silver Screen (2012) entice and anticipate the viewer’s camera phone and the inevitable digital capture of the work’s likeness. Using a CNC machine to route and score overlapping mathematical patterns into the surface of the piece, DeLucia plays with simple optical tricks that create moiré patterns of dancing pixels by virtue of the viewing device alone. The screen is expected. The object exists in many realms at once. Though the industrial materials and Platonic solids call back to earlier Minimalist ideas, the artist is explicitly aware that art does not exist in a vacuum. No matter how white the cube of the gallery, each visitor carries with them an access point to wider worlds, both virtual and physical. By coalescing these realms for a brief moment in his artwork, DeLucia invites us to question the nature of our viewing habits and our entrapment within digital systems.