Francesca Zak

Issue 45's 'Discovery' artist Francesca Zak discusses how she engages with technological detritus in her practice.


The warm embrace of my computer’s fan on my lap …

When images online have become unnecessary to their original function, I collect and redistribute them. Pictures can shrink over time through neglect, as the websites around them expand with the continual growth of data. I see these shrunken and discarded images as being connected to one another, through their disuse and the ways in which they have been left behind.

Using image-grabber apps on my phone and computer, I filter what is downloaded by name, size and colour, tying this stream of content together. I pick the fruits of Google Images, seeing how far a reverse image search can take you. Collating my search results lets me create a bridge from link to link and establish something that seems to come full circle from the original picture I began with to the one I’m left with.

Folders on my computer and Google Drive are full of harvested imagery. I sort and reassemble them into as many different variations as needed. I leave them for a few days and then reopen the folders later with a better understanding of what it is that I’m looking for. Once I’ve prepared an image in Photoshop, I find a way to take it from my computer, most often via a form of print, using a copier machine and printing press to create solvent transfers.

After spending so much screen time, I detach from technology as I push the images into new forms. To create works such as Craigslist Ad (2017) and Mapping Horizons (2017) I printed over a few days onto elastic, partially transparent materials. The pictures became disjointed again as they were pulled and prised over the wooden structures that formed the skeleton for the work. Finally, they were either given legs to stand in a space, or simply leant against a wall.

In my exhibition ‘Ode’ at Ankles earlier this year, I thought of my grandmother, Dagmar, as I made the works, building box frames around images that centred my memories of her and our relationship, which for the most part had been through online messages over time. I filled the corners with onions, garlic and bread, pulling together the show as an homage to her as our internet connection enabled me to see her life from the other side of the world.

Morana (2018) is a collation of images steeped in stories she had told me and traditions I had been a part of in my childhood spent in the Czech Republic, a connector and connection for us both.
With these works I wanted to display a sense of genuine appreciation. Sourcing the many online images of low value and reassembling them into something that I remade and valued let me feel an added sense of connection to her.

These unwanted online images, after being hollowed out over time, have become new objects with fresh understandings and connections placed upon them. My work projects a new worth on them, tying them to my own understanding. As they have room to be filled up with a new sense of value and connection, they can become what you need of them.

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