When I set up an interview with Miami artist Jillian Mayer, it felt especially fitting to arrange a studio visit via Skype, given her art: post-internet (for the most part). However, when we connected last Monday, she explained that she wasn’t at her studio after all—she doesn’t have wireless internet there. This anecdote turns out to be an appropriate metaphor for the aesthetic space that Mayer dwells in as an artist. “I play a lot with the tension between physical and digital existence,” she tells me.
In lieu of a virtual walkthrough of her workspace, Mayer sent me a melange of JPEGs—some completed works, others in process. One pictures her in blacked-out goggles and a snorkel, a nod to a new direction her art is taking; another showed her Chihuahua, Shivers, a consistent wellspring of inspiration for the artist. As we speak, Mayer is in the midst of a flurry of exhibitions and projects; in the coming weeks and months she’ll feature in gallery shows in Miami and Raleigh, North Carolina; group exhibitions at MOCA North Miami and Mexico City’s Centro de Cultura Digital; and she’ll unveil a billboard commission with LAX ART.
Mayer’s work teeters between the physical and the digital, much in the same way that life itself increasingly hurtles towards some version of the Singularity—a theory popularized by Ray Kurzweil that predicts the differences between humans and computing machines will be indistinguishable. Rather than taking a solely utopian or dystopian approach, Mayer is interested in the present, the messy imperfections of technology; her work leads one to wonder what the future will really look like. “Tech is still super clumsy,” she says during our conversation, “and I actually really like it that way.”
(Published in Artsy, April 8, 2016)