Opening March 7 and running through April, generative artist Tyler Hobbs’s Mechanical Hand exhibition will be presented by the contemporary art gallery Unit London. The exhibition showcases a new contemplative and intimate side to Hobbs’s varied practice, spotlighting his paintings on canvas, drawings on paper, and digital works. A private viewing of Mechanical Hand will take place at Unit London from 7 pm to 9 pm on Thursday, March 9.
Featuring twenty new and recent artworks, “Mechanical Hand” explores the tension between analog and digital, man and machine. Hobbs brings the human touch into the generative process, seeking softness and imperfection. Systems are at the core of Hobbs’s practice; this exhibition aims to challenge the misconception that generative art is always made by algorithms and always digital, as the artist’s work demonstrates that it is not a hard category but is more about the methodology of the artist.
“This work is built on top of the complex, adolescent relationship between humans and machines,” said Hobbs. “What signs does the hand leave? What is the result when the machine is used like a hand, or the hand like a machine?”
Hobbs gained international recognition from his celebrated Fidenza series (2021), which became one of the most highly sought-after fine art NFT collections of all time. His paintings, drawings and digital works have been collected privately around the world. Working with algorithms, codes, and plotters (robotic arms directed by computers), as well as traditional materials such as gouache paint, pencil, graphite and pastels, Hobbs integrates systems into analog formats, crossing the digital and physical boundaries multiple times and in multiple ways.
This is reflected in the exhibition, which encourages a slow and intimate viewing experience. The works are intended to be seen in person, inviting viewers to look closer and discern which details are man-made or machine-made, in phenomena as subtle as the line of a pencil. Hobbs uses autonomous systems to inject randomized features into the images produced and key differences that emerge are that the plotter can achieve a level of precision and detail not possible organically, while the human hand can capture a sense of freedom and spontaneity hard to achieve by computer.
“Mechanical Hand” kicks off a significant year for Hobbs, as one of two major solo exhibitions taking place in 2023. The exhibition at Unit London will be followed by QQL: Analogs, a presentation at Pace in New York, running from 30 March to 22 April 2023. This exhibition will feature large-scale paintings based on the artist’s own experimentations with the new QQL NFT algorithm he developed in collaboration with fellow generative artist Dandelion Wist.
The paintings in Pace’s show will explore a making process that unites programmed digital equipment and human hands, shining a light on Hobbs’s distinctive approach to abstraction.
Joe Kennedy, Co-Founder and Director of Unit London, said, “Naturally, as our lives become increasingly digital, our relationship with technology bears more scrutiny. Hobbs’s work speaks to the very core of this relationship – examining the relative strengths and weaknesses of humanity and machinery.” As Hobbs’s first showing in the UK, he “challenges our understanding of the role of science, code, and mathematics in the creation of life, and art.”