“In this century, technology itself has become more abstract, and it has transformed the world we live in into an abstract environment.”
Peter Halley (b. New York, NY, 1953) is noteworthy as a forerunner of economic abstraction. Inspired by the writings of Michael Foucault and Jean Baudrillard, Halley draws on a lexicon of rectangles and bars to connote “cells,” “prisons,” and “conduits” in order to reflect the way cities and social spaces are organized. His works were initially sparse and featured neon color, but as the 1990s ushered in the digital revolution, Halley adjusted his visual language, increasing the complexity and saturation as a commentary on the technological changes in an almost parodic fashion. His fluorescent Day-Glo paints are a wry commentary on man-made culture as well as the high energy of cities such as New York, where the artist lives and works, while is his use of Roll-A-Tex, a chemical used as surfacing in construction, is in order to endow his works with a tactile, architectural sensibility. The goal of Halley’s work is to incite public awareness of the underlying structures of industrialized society and commodity capitalism as well as to provide the sensation of an ominously connected world in light of social media and technology.