‘We are inventing ways of leaving our bodies behind,’ says postdigital artist Richard Dupont

New York City – Richard Dupont was an early adopter of technology in fine art, and has been using CAD and 3D scanning since the turn of the millennium. His sculptures have a very physical presence however, and involve hours of manual labour in sanding and finishing. The technology is never a shortcut here, but is central to the work, and is laid out on the examination table for closer inspection.

‘I began using technology in my work because I was fundamentally alarmed by the cultural implications of these technologies,’ explains Dupont, who anticipated that the digital body was going to become a battleground for a more insidious form of identity politics. ‘I realise now how naïve I was at the beginning, as the effects and reverberations of biometrics and the digital fingerprint have far exceeded my initial fantasies. The identity politics of old are increasingly urgent and unresolved, but everything is now framed within a larger systemic phenomenon that complicates things.’

This ‘systemic phenomenon’ is the bewildering array of digital systems that have sprung up around our every activity, from health to socialising, politics to finance. For Dupont, far from giving us greater control and bringing us closer together, these byzantine systems are incomprehensible to virtually everyone, and have created a global system where it’s impossible for people to truly connect; allowing a politics of terror and suspicion to thrive.

‘We are rapidly inventing ways of leaving our bodies behind, and I think art needs to find a visual language that can explore that,’ says Dupont, who uses a generic digital model of a human body as his baseline, rather than that of an individual. ‘Digital processes are high-cultural signifiers because of their association with expensive design. I’m interested in how these processes can be used against themselves, to reveal aspects that are usually outside the realm of discussion.’

I’m interested in how digital processes can be used against themselves

He achieves this by rendering these ephemeral processes in solid resin and rubber, materials that firmly belong in the physical world, and yet in Dupont’s hands have become a kind of physical avatar for the digital. ‘Their physical presence, weight and material qualities all betray the false purity and positivism of digital aesthetics,’ he explains.


This piece was originally featured in Postdigital Artisans. You can purchase a copy here.

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