Beat the Matrix
Julien Bismuth

Jan 7 - Feb 11, 2023

Opening: January 7th, 6 – 8 PM

Examine for a moment an ordinary mind on an ordinary day. The mind receives a myriad impressions—trivial, fantastic, evanescent, or engraved with the sharpness of steel. From all sides they come, an incessant shower of innumerable atoms; and as they fall, as they shape themselves into the life of Monday or Tuesday, the accent falls differently from of old; the moment of importance came not here but there; so that if a writer were a free man and not a slave, if he could write what he chose, not what he must, if he could base his work upon his own feeling and not upon convention, there would be no plot, no comedy, no tragedy, no love interest or catastrophe in the accepted style, and perhaps not a single button sewn on as the Bond Street tailors would have it. Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; but a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end. (1)

To beat a matrix is to press paper pulp into a tray of metal type (or matrix) so as to make a mold for a printing plate. This process is called stereotyping, and the plates it produces are called stereotypes or clichés. The word “matrix” can also signify: a medium in which something is originated, the environment in which a process begins, a point of origin and growth, the rock in which a fossil is embedded, a supporting or enclosing structure, a womb, or an array of symbols representing a truth value. The words “stereotype” and “cliché” refer to the petrification of type.

Everything in this exhibition is a sequence or part of a sequence. Like language. Like this text. Like the sentences but also the words in this text, which are meant to be read in a linear fashion, knowing that the only way to transform a line is to follow it repeatedly until it bends to form a circle that spins into a spiral and leads you elsewhere.

Every work in this exhibition is a form or its impression. What little paint I have used has been pressed through the matrix of a serigraphy screen. Even the drawings were mediated and abstracted by the milky vellum through and onto which I drew them.

These works neither contain nor communicate anything other than the potential to become what alone they can never be. The colors of one of the wallpapers are the average color of the universe, calculated in two different ways. The image that forms its pattern is a slice of the vast universe that covers “a patch of sky approximately the size of a grain of sand held at arm’s length by someone on the ground.” (2) The images I used for the drawings and video are those that stayed with me, like grit or sand, from the flux of images that I, like everyone else, produce and consume on a daily basis. They are images I want to remember, for reasons often unrelated to anything other than the circumstances in which I encountered them. The other objects on view are also residues, deposits, traces of a pursuit both errant and purposeful, like scrolling past images on one’s phone, or like this text, which is just as necessary or trivial as anything I could have written in its stead.

– Julien Bismuth


(1) Woolf, Virginia. On Fiction. Trafalgar Square, 2011.

(2) Garner, Rob, ed. “NASA's Webb Delivers Deepest Infrared Image of Universe Yet.” NASA. NASA, July 11, 2022.