The Voeten Collection represents a unique combination of both Belgian and international works. Currently it comprises over 1700 art pieces that have been collected during a period of more than 40 years. They are exhibited in two separate locations – at the Art Center close to Herentals and at the sculpture park near Gheel.

Michael DeLucia

Projection (black), 2012, plywood, safety enamel, 240 x 120 x 115 cm

"I wonder about the condition of sculpture in the technological age," says Michael DeLucia (°1978, Rochester, New York). With Projections, a series of sculptures developed since 2010, DeLucia analyzes the state of the discipline of sculpture. Projection (black) (2012), that is part of this series and that pertains to the collection Hugo Voeten, is made out of large panels of plywood wherein a relief is carved, by using a computer-controlled wood router. The surface of these panels is covered in gradations with a layer of black safety enamel. DeLucia connected these painted wooden planks with screws, resulting in a monumental geometrical volume, and thus combines minimalistic sculpture with new media. The title Projection refers to DeLucia's idea that images are objects abstracted by radiation. The artist namely conceives his works as spatial models of projected images, sculptures that describe the route of a light ray to his source.

By creating the incisions and pattern with a computer and not with his own hands, DeLucia questions the importance and necessity of the craftsmanship of an artist. Technology changes the practice of the artist. According to DeLucia the way art is perceived also changes: "today we work on the computer, an abstract and spatially fragmented place, and 99% of people will only see the exhibition on-line", he states. By a mechanized creation process, DeLucia calls upon the discussion about the dependency of computers and machines.

The artist posits that the dominance of digital reproduction has changed the real nature of our phenomenological experience. Each image is namely, prior to the experience, subject to mediation and this deforms our perception of reality – a sort of contemporary version of Plato's allegory of the cave. Therefore DeLucia aims to create objects that confront the viewer with the physiological reality. With Projections he shows a 'problem in space' and tests the viewing of the spectator. In doing so, DeLucia explores what happens with the image when it emerges out of the computer and appears into the physical space, occupied by spectators.

Furthermore DeLucia queries the images' ability to exist. How often can an image be regenerated? What is the existence capacity? Is something computer-controlled endless or infinite? And can a physical object fully embody a computer-controlled concept? Projection (black) reveals the gap between the perfection of the three-dimensional file of the computer and the flaws or imperfections that characterize the concrete realization of the object in space. At times the router-prescribed incisions do not correspond with the natural veins of the wood, what causes unpredictable bursts and cracks. Pushed to its limits by the machine, the material reveals its incapacity to retrace the ray of the digitalized idea, of the pure form, all the way to its synthesis. DeLucia's Projections are seemingly endless possibilities of computer-controlled images. DeLucia places himself in the tradition of artists who play with the dematerialization of artworks, such as Alexander Calder (1898-1976) and Fred Sandback (1943-2003).

By combining the notched lively lines with the layer of paint that is spread to the middle in degradations, the illusion of depth is created and DeLucia's sculptures refer to optical art. The surface seems to be decorated with moiré patterns. This brings forth the illusion of a pixeled and fragmented image. Additional, DeLucia's minimal forms recall the work of Donald Judd (1928-1994), Robert Morris (°1931) and John McCracken (1934-2011), who as representatives of minimal art expanded the definition of making art.

Finally, DeLucia elevates the Do It Yourself or DIY trend that he combines with high-tech to an aesthetic. The artist reveals the material as well as his working method. The screws he used to attach the planks are clearly visible and the many carves discontinue the regularity of the surface. The vulnerability of the plywood, as a raw and everyday material, is visible. Through the holes, whereby the planks splinter, the unwrought inside of the sculpture can be seen. DeLucia's choice for and manner of approaching this material reminds of the art movement arte povera, which means literally translated 'poor art'. The term 'arte povera' was introduced in the 1970s in Italy by art critic Germano Celant to indicate a group of artists who used simple, unusual and often found materials.

Text: Sarah Gallasz