Chris Combs: Lossiness

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Concourse Gallery


Chris Combs


Lossiness was supported by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, grant number FY21 AHFP-07741.

September 3 – October 17

Concourse Gallery

Spot a few rabbits in a row and you’ve got yourself an omen, a philosophy or a phobia. Humans are pattern-matching beasts. 

Well—”matching” isn’t a strong enough word. We are pattern-forging creatures; pattern smashers, pattern steamrollers, nuclear atom-crushing pattern rippers, imposing hallucinatory structures on a soup of utterly incorrolatable flotsam. Any stray sparks in the void are eligible for greater meaning; before long we’ve crashed together Vegas in the night.  

Chris Combs believes you could describe a lot of contemporary life in this way: good-intentioned folks skimming the garbage patch, and willing their scoopfuls to become perfect pearls. Or is he just stringing together his own pattern?  

In Lossiness, Chris aims to explore the edges of perceptibility. Through selective destruction, warping and obscuring, he hopes to guide his viewers through their own pattern-matching hardware.  

The word “lossiness” refers to a compression technique. We don’t really need every detail of every picture, right? Toss out some lesser-noticed pixels: you’ve got a JPEG. Do this 60 times a second, that’s YouTube. And we’re happy to patch in the gaps, building our own mini-deepfakes, tickling 90% of the same neurons because we didn’t have quite enough resources for the real thing. No matter—the pattern came through. 

About the artist:

Chris Combs is an artist based in Washington, D.C and Mount Rainier, Maryland who creates provocative technology. His first solo exhibition, Judging Me Judging You, at the DC Arts Center’s Nano Gallery explored themes of surveillance and control, and his installation Maelstrom at Rhizome DC featured 35 machines spreading rumors about its visitors. Madness Method, a large-scale collaboration with David Greenfieldboyce, was part of the Georgetown GLOW public art festival. He was selected as the Derek Lieu Spring 2020 Artist-in-Residence at HOLE IN THE SKY, and is a recipient of the DC CAH Arts and Humanities Fellowship program. His Morale is Mandatory was shortlisted for the 2021 Aesthetica Art Prize. Chris is a graduate of the Corcoran College of Art + Design, and was a photo editor for National Geographic. He is a member of the Otis Street Arts Project.

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