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The Quick Brown Fox Jumps Over The Lazy Dog

Artist Michael Riedel's first introspective show reinterprets source code as textual printed matter

by Karen Day in Culture on 17 February 2011

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A man seemingly obsessed with extraction, abstraction and repetition, Michael Riedel takes printed matter and toys with it until most sense is lost. With an almost "Matrix" style of approach, Riedel uses text to "write with writing," a technique in which he excerpts the works of others in order to make his own statement. His current work—on display at the David Zwirner gallery in an exhibition titled "The Quick Brown Fox Jumps Over The Lazy Dog"—finally sees Riedel use himself as his subject.

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Culling HTML code from websites that feature Riedel (mostly MoMA and David Zwirner), the Frankfurt-based artist created massive linear collages by copying and pasting the text in InDesign. By layering and turning the text, the arrangement appears nonsensical at first glance, but there is a clear pattern defined on each canvas. There is also seemingly a theme for each of the silk-screened "poster paintings," with individual keyboard commands like "click," "print," "color" and "alt" highlighted in bold type.

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Hung against a wallpaper backdrop of even more black-and-white code, the canvases are accented by colorful circles—a new foray for Riedel. The color not only helps to balance out the web of text, but with their geometric pie-like structure they also seem like the spinning beach ball Mac users encounter when their computer is processing.

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A pangram used to test typewriters and keyboards, here "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" underlines the detached relationship Riedel found between text, canvas, paper, and architecture.

The exhibition opens today and runs through 19 March 2011 at David Zwirner gallery, where he will also be signing his catalogs on 5 March 2011 from 4-6pm.

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