Artist Michael Staniak took as inspiration for his ‘History Suspended’ series the works of 17th century painter Claude Lorrain who, in turn, had been inspired by the written classics of Virgil. Our cover features Aeneas at Delos, in which Staniak has taken the romantic landscapes of Lorrain and applied elements to his work, before ‘hybridizing them into an uninhabitable land that floats nowhere in a metaphorical virtual space.’
While some might view the image as paying homage to Apollo — providing an association with the law, philosophy and the arts, the ‘higher developments’ of civilisation — Staniak is quite content for
his work to be ‘open to an avenue of self interpretation.’ To him, the series ‘examines how our contemporary technology is shaping the way we view our history and therefore changing the way we see
and create images.’
Viewing artworks on the web provided further critical impetus to the artist’s work. As Staniak explains, ‘we view a lot of our art and art history online, and have instant access. Yet we view it within a multiplicity of contexts. The versions of imagery are forever tweaked and changed as information is shared, copied and edited.’ The Internet, the artist notes, is ‘a kind of landscape that doesn’t exist — yet we have to navigate all sorts of rugged terrain to find images and information relevant to us as individuals. This can create an interesting re-appropriation and translation of older painting movements into more digitally focused contemporaries.’
History Suspended is Staniak’s way of re-editing the tradition of painting, in particular the landscapes of Claude Lorrain, using materials and methods that reference the screen and the ways we edit images using digital technology.