The fifth artist in SECCA's new curated sale series, Southern Idiom, Eric Juth, is a Winston-Salem based artist and educator.
July 26 to August 26
The series of prints in Juth's "Prove you're not a robot" exhibit are selections from an ongoing series that began in 2016 and uses as its source material Google reCAPTCHA images. The "reCAPTCHA" system was developed by computer security researchers to prevent bots from exploiting services provided by websites and social media platforms. One usually encountered these narrowly cropped, lo-res JPEGs, which were sourced from Google Street View, during the process of creating an online profile. Between May and July of 2016, just prior to them becoming obsolete and all but vanishing from the Internet, Juth had manually downloaded over 2000 reCAPTCHA image files. These ostensibly mundane, yet nonetheless operative images, served as the most conspicuous element of an automated gatekeeping system designed to prevent bots from simulating human agents: "Prove you're not a robot."
Proceeds from Southern Idiom support both the artist and SECCA's exhibition fund.
The reCAPTCHA image files became the constituent elements for an ongoing series of collages and other works of art. I print the collages on a vinyl mesh material, which is typically used to obscure construction sites because its perforated surface evokes the shimmer of a computer monitor. I was initially drawn to the generic sense of "placelessness" that imbued these odd pictures of the world, which more or less uniformly displayed street addresses. However, other features from the domain of humans and nature occasionally infiltrated their frames: flowerpots, tree branches, curtains, sedans, and other things that robots would have little use for. Yet, beyond these incidental encroachments and their peculiar status as documentary images, I also became increasingly fascinated by how the reCATPCHA images figured into digital labor and automation; cultural production and corporate hegemony; mass surveillance and the erosion of privacy; and development of AI. In these aforementioned contexts, where the reCAPTCHA images interface with society, culture, and technology, they acquire an artifact-like quality and the folder that I store them suddenly evokes a digital excavation site.
About the Artist
Eric Juth is an artist and educator who is originally from the Pittsburgh area and is now based in Winston-Salem. The series of prints in the "Prove you're not a robot" exhibit are selections from an ongoing series that began in 2016 and uses as its source material Google reCAPTCHA images. In the past two years, Juth has participated in group exhibitions in Durham, Raleigh, Asheville, Philadelphia, and New York City. His work was also recently included in the Homeostasis Lab pavilion as part of the third edition of "The Wrong: New Digital Art Biennale." In early 2017, the first iteration of the "Prove you're not a robot" series was exhibited at the Gatewood Gallery at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Juth holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in Documentary Film Production and a Master of Arts degree in Communications from Wake Forest University. As an undergraduate, he studied painting and art history at Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia and also took part in Yale's Summer School of Painting in Norfolk.