Chris Combs: Lossiness

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Concourse Gallery


Chris Combs


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:

Through handmade and custom-fabricated hardware, software and enclosures, the electronic sculptures of Chris Combs respond to themes of surveillance, control and algorithmic bias–and the viewer, using facial recognition and motion sensing. He works with a wide range of practices to create circuit boards, software, and enclosures for his sculptures, which both embrace and question technology. 

Chris’s first solo exhibition, Judging Me Judging You at the D.C. Arts Center’s Nano Gallery, explored themes of surveillance and control. His work Markov Radio was also included in a one-day Sound Scene event at the Hirshhorn Museum. He was a photo editor for National Geographic for five years, and he has photographed Autism, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and traffic cones. He is a graduate of the Corcoran College of Art + Design.

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