“...and hold onto one thought: You're not important. You're not anything. Someday the load we're carrying with us may help someone. But even when we had the books on hand, along time ago, we didn't use what we got out of them. We went right on insulting the dead. We went right on spitting in the graves of the all the poor ones who died before us. We’re going to meet a lot of lonely people in the next week and the next month and the next year. And when they ask us what we’re doing, you can say, we're remembering. That's where we’ll win out in the long run.”
- From Ray Bradbury’s epic novel Fahrenheit 451
Throughout history humans have suffered from the destruction of knowledge and culture through the absolution of memory. Examples of this date as far back to ancient Alexandria in Egypt — the countless scrolls lost in the library fires. In more recent times we recall Nazi book burning events, precursors to wide spread cultural cleansing during WWII. Controversial books are still being banned to this day in the United States, many of us even unaware of such censorship.
With ‘Reading Room’ artist Sandy White questions the impacts of cultural suppression and whether or not we are in danger of permanently altering humanity through the destruction of memories. In our current political climate, these questions are more relevant than ever.
The history of literary censorship is communicated through White’s series of drawings of banned books and bookshelves color-rendered to reflect J.M.W. Turner’s series of paintings ‘The Burning of the Houses of Parliament,’and a powerful Virtual Reality animation component. The artist’s 360 degree animations are fully immersive worlds composed of traditional hand-drawn, video collage, and stop-motion techniques. Together the sound and color stimulate a near out-of-body experience for the viewer.
White believes VR is a transporting medium that can communicate in radically new ways and provide a fitting space to explore themes of cultural legacy and the power of memory, marrying his 2D collection of pieces with 3D.
Proceeds from artwork sales will benefit NCAC: National Coalition Against Censorship. Download Press Release
Artist Statement & Bio
Alexander White, American, Born 1978, Massachusetts
White brings his animations and drawings to life using analogue techniques including inks, watercolor, steam and stop-motion. His work is a delicate combination of reality and imagination – each layer transmitting a distinct emotion, energy and insight.
His work aims to discover the space between his own curiosity and our collective subconscious. Fascinated and critical of a society that has a reckless appetite for technology, one that relies on social media for human affirmation, and that is severely disconnected from nature, White considers his work successful when a viewer is struck by the perversity of our culture while absorbing a moment of visceral fulfillment.
White received a BFA from Bard Collage in sculpture, animation and drawing and has exhibited work in New York, London and Barcelona. Having shown at Skylight Projects and Allegra LaViola Gallery in New York City, White has also contributed work to the New York Times VR division. White currently lives and works in Los Angeles.