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Refreshing the Loop:
Petra Cortright and John Karel

Both Petra Cortright and John Karel acknowledge the symbolic power of computer screen as frame in their GIF work. Cortright's System Landscapes series celebrates the apparatuses that structure the active experience of browsing or creating on a screen, such as the now defunct Adobe ImageReady, contrasted by embedded, mountainous topography. Karel's Still Life series makes a nod to the history of painting while incorporating social media aesthetics and Blendr-created 3D animations. 

The artists participated in the curatorial process for this installation, each selecting resonant works from the other.  

In their recorded conversation, Cortright and Karel discuss their appreciation for digital tools; how making and sharing GIFs on Myspace and Surf Clubs versus Tumblr and Twitter, respectively, affected their perspectives; and the importance of sincerity in the expression of their looping animations. 

Petra Cortright and John Karel’s work will be on display in MoMI’s passenger elevator October 20–January 2024. Learn more.

About Petra Cortright and John Karel

Petra Cortright is an L.A.-based artist producing work in both tangible and digital environments. An early series of webcam self-portrait videos using filters and effects long before smartphones made them ubiquitous established Cortright as a key figure in the post-internet art movement. Cortright produces paintings, sculptures, and video installations alongside natively digital work, such as GIFs. Cortright’s solo exhibitions include New York’s Team Gallery and Foxy Production, the Galeria Duarte Sequeira in Braga, Portugal, L.A.’s 1301PE and Depart Foundation, Ever Gold [Projects] in San Francisco, Société in Berlin, and Nahmad Projects in London. Cortright has been included in group exhibitions at the Walker Art Center; MCA Chicago; Whitechapel Gallery; MALBA; Frieze Film at Frieze London, the 12th Venice Biennale de Lyon, France; and the Venice Venice Biennale. Her works are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art (New York); the Péréz Museum (Miami), the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Hammer Museum (Los Angeles), the Moderna Museet (Stockholm), the Stedelijk Museum (Breda and Amsterdam, Netherlands), the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, BAMPFA (Berkeley), the San Jose Museum of Art, MOCA Los Angeles, and Rhizome’s Net Art Anthology (New York).  

John Karel is an artist, computer animator, and illustrator best known for creating thousands of low-res, low-poly GIF art depicting skeletons and everyday consumer objects. He studied at Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia and previously worked at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Karel has produced animations for projects like Super Deluxe and is one of the most recognized, collected, and beloved artists involved in the Tezos ecosystem.  

John Karel, <em>Untitled</em> [Grid] (2015)
John Karel, Untitled [Grid] (2015)
John Karel, <em>Window Still Life 053</em> (2021)
John Karel, Window Still Life 053 (2021)
John Karel, <em>Window Still Life 027</em> (2021)
John Karel, Window Still Life 027 (2021)
John Karel, <em>Window Still Life 049</em> (2021)
John Karel, Window Still Life 049 (2021)

Refreshing the Loop was made possible with support from GIPHY. Additional support was provided by 4thBin.

John Karel, <em>Window Still Life 027</em> (2021)