"Information Randomized Mix-up #4" is an encyclopedia. The artwork, a scintillating grid of tiny inkjet images by Atlanta video artist and VJ Ben Worley, contains a world. Everything from elephants to earthworms to an ironic-looking guy with a beard rolls across the surface in a Red Bull- and NoDoz-fueled mesh of nervous animation. The work also happens to be a literal encyclopedia — at least in part. The piece re-creates elements from Worley's earlier works, which used images from an actual encyclopedia to explore fractured, unassimilated visual data in constant flux.
In Information, the artist's master's thesis show at Get This! Gallery, Worley continues his examination of the explosion of information occasioned by digital media and a networked world.
Worley also goes by the nom de plume Bean Summer. Like his names, the artist's work concatenates random elements to hint at secret meanings hidden in the spaces where objects collide and images jostle one another in an aggressive, energetic dance.
"Information: Experiments in Digital Video," which sits at the center of the show, incorporates some 40,000 original and appropriated images in a rapid display of visual fireworks. The style is glittery and saturated, recalling the formalist psychedelia of fellow video artists Rico Gatson and the late Jeremy Blake. The content, though, is all Worley's. The artist draws smart parallels between the wish fulfillment of get-rich-quick schemes, the faith-filled promises of religion, and the undertow of history's darker moments. If all this seems like a lot to tackle in less than seven minutes, it is. Worley, however, brings the task off admirably.
Ten inkjet "contact sheets" — grids of still images drawn largely from the video — fill out the remainder of the show. Here, the artist shines in deft compositions of tremendous maturity and poise. With a keen eye for rhythm and searing color palettes, Worley manages to indulge in sumptuous chromatic expeditions without waxing nostalgic for a mythical pre-modern age of grace. His aesthetic is thoroughly relevant and contemporary.
Information is a post-modern hat trick, both beautiful and relevant, and an auspicious start to the artist’s next phase.