In Anthony White’s densely packed compositions, a delirium of late capitalist consumer goods interface with digital platforms and online gaming culture in vertiginous spaces. Crammed with products, name brand logos, and digital icons that mark our increasingly intertwined analog and digital lives, works such as “Wayback Machine” and “’Til the End of Time” resemble excavations of the recent past. A sense of nostalgia is triggered with the symbols and objects that once shaped our collective and individual identities—early Super Mario games and flying toaster screensavers, Ask Jeeves and Napster—now already obsolete and upgraded with new models. White draws his images with molten plastic, such that the material becomes one with the plastic products he represents, their smooth sheen replaced with a coarse texture that makes us pause.
Exuberant at first glance, the images give rise to a sticky sense of claustrophobia. In some works, products float in space with human bodies, suggesting that the desire for both—along with the accompanying capitalist longing for the identity, community, or status that a product promises—are intertwined. In others, the material accumulations are overlaid with the digital icons of smartphones: Siri is at your beck and call, always listening for your command, while app logos reference a host of communication portals asking us to remain connected and surveilled. The overbearing glut of this visual universe is disrupted by tech glitches indicating that all is not well. A poor WiFi connection, Nintendo’s screaming “Game Over” logo, and the relentless pursuit of the Energizer Bunny behind a cracked screen mark the emptiness at the heart of the joyride.
Anthony White (American, born 1994) is the 2021 Betty Bowen Award winner. Established in 1977 to honor the legacy of Betty Bowen—an enthusiastic supporter of Northwest contemporary art—the annual award celebrates a Northwest artist for their original, exceptional, and compelling work.
All works are courtesy of the artist and the Greg Kucera Gallery, Seattle.