Ellen Alt
Medium: Mixed Media

Studio Location:
10-10 44th Avenue - Studio# 414-415

Email: ealt202@gmail.com

Website:: http://www.ellenalt.com/

Artist Bio:
Ellen Alt's work is inspired by languages, alphabets and symbols. This interest has led from pictograms, through the history of writing, to messages embedded in ice and floating in water as part of her work about climate change. Alt's current work is an exploration of television test patterns as a reminder of shared information and a metaphor for AI. Her mixed media work has been exhibited in the U.S, Germany, Russia, China, England and the Middle East. One of her pieces was presented to Hillary Clinton and is in the collection of the White House. Ms. Alt also organizes community sculpture and mural projects throughout the world. She holds an MA in studio art from New York University and a BFA from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design.

Artist Statement:
In the early days of TV, engineers needed a way to test and calibrate broadcast signal. This led to the creation of the test patterns. These patterns typically feature geometric shapes, colors bars and other visual elements to test for color accuracy, resolution and contrast. I grew up with test patterns and they terrified me. I would turn on the TV and run out of the room till the cartoons came on. I rediscovered them during the pandemic while looking for regimented colorful designs, just to feel a sense of grounding. They are like old friends but no longer scary, representing what TV once stood for with its limited channels and shared programming. Although they may appear as relics of the past, they mark the beginnings of technology that has led us through black and white to color, Television to streaming, internet to AI.
They also connect to Nam June Paik, "the father of video art", who I followed with awe. He transformed television into an artistic medium, using the structure of the TV set to build sculpture and installations while changing the content of the screen with magnets and his own video art. Lying down in the Whitney Museum to look at TVs on the ceiling and experiencing "TV garden" with tiny tv's embedded in nature was such a fabulous mix of something familiar with something transformative. Through the structure of TV, he brought the intimate family living room experience to the art museum and expanded it exponentially.
Beyond the connection to technology, test patterns serve as a metaphor for our relationship with the world. As the climate crisis escalates, our limited ability to cooperate is evident. We have lost the ability to gather and watch content together, losing the sense of unity and connection that television once provided.

My approaches to this body of work include the preservation of the design in mixed media using sand, glitter, paint, gravel and photographs, combining the structure of the patterns with satellite photographs of the earth in paint and signal disruption with ink on plastic paper.

All images and text copyright Ellen Alt