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Ruth Whiting — Electric Ecology

A series of oil paintings

 
 
Glorified Artifacts of Technology

Our technological lives produce vast numbers of artifacts. Many of which become obsolete in a very short time. All of these relics, once vital to our daily lives, end up in drawers and landfills—forgotten as soon as their usefulness is eclipsed.

Electric Ecology is an investigation of a mythical afterlife for the forgotten connective tissue of technology. Plugs and cables live on in an imagined realm.

This series was started in 2005 and has been exhibited in various forms and in several galleries over the years. This is a comprehensive web gallery of the series. Special, site-specific commissions are also available.

 

Ruth Whiting Oil painting Electric Ecology
 
ruth whiting painting electric ecology series

The rich colors and imposing silhouettes are borrowed from the long history of religious art. From early icons, to grand historic narratives, these same principles have helped artists inspire awe in the viewer. Now those techniques turn the ordinary detritus of our age into something memorable and heroic. This work is about changing our perspective, about noticing that which is all around us.

ruth whiting painting electric ecology series
Their mechanical nature is replaced by a more organic interpretation. Coaxial cables bloom, and microchips become scurrying insects. There is no need for distortion as these modern artifacts are modeled by necessity and already have the form of their organic ancestors.
Ruth Whiting electric ecology oil paintings
Tech is beautiful in the afterlife
Ruth Whiting oil painting electric ecology

Diagrams appear throughout the series. Borrowed from real schematics, they provide a rich textural background. Like runes, or glyphs, they add a sense of unexplained depth. This world of re-imagined electronics has the layered symbolism of a delicately illuminated manuscript or an elaborately decorated cathedral.

Ruth Whiting Oil Painting Electric ecology

While the subject matter remains constant, the style does not. Sometimes only a rough silhouette is referenced, familiar shapes spared out against a vivid back ground. In other paintings the interpretation is more lyrical and rendered.

Ruth Whiting oil painting electric ecology

Brush strokes vary, from tight and layered, to etherial gestures that create a sense of depth with just a few casual marks.

Ruth Whiting Electric Ecology oil painting

Plug Family Portraits

Ruth Whiting Electric Ecology oil painting

Inspired by the idea of the family photo album this section of the series originally consisted of 23 tiny paintings that were first exhibited in one big cluster. In each image different specimens are represented, sometimes posed alone sometimes in groups. Relationships are suggested and personalities are unmistakable. These miniatures follow in the tradition of old master portraiture. Their textures and rendering style are reminiscent of the most traditional of oil paintings.

Ruth Whiting Electric Ecology oil painting
Ruth Whiting Electric Ecology oil painting
Ruth Whiting Electric Ecology oil painting
They are humorous in their seriousness. Often purchased in small groups they make a whimsical addition to any collection. In essence, Electric Ecology is a series about imagining an alternate reality and using all the tools of art history to examine it.
Ruth Whiting Electric Ecology oil painting

Based in a technical, but visceral grasp of the medium, this series is born from a painter's fascination with capturing the particulars of our moment in time. Ultimately it seeks to help the viewer notice that which already surrounds us.

Ruth Whiting Electric Ecology oil painting
 
Ruth Whiting Electric Ecology Oil Painting Series

Visit the complete gallery of this work here.