Michael Miller: R O U N D E L S
July 12 — 24
These works reflect on the apparent decline of “truth” and the ascendancy of the label “fake” in contemporary Western society, exploring aspects of deception, fakery and mendacity through the visual vocabulary of dazzle camouflage.
Dazzle is a form of geometric, high-contrast patterning, originally developed to protect British and American merchant ships from U-boat attack in the North Atlantic during the First World War. Dazzle camouflage was intended not to hide a ship, but rather to break up its form and outline and obscure its heading and speed. Like all forms of disruptive camouflage, dazzle is founded on the apparently paradoxical idea that concealment can be achieved through a deceptive form of revelation.
While these works might give the initial impression of legibility and openness, a closer look reveals inconsistencies, revisions and distortions. Forms move and float in ambiguous pictorial space, often obscuring other painting layers in a literal “cover up”. Each work therefore asks the viewer to consider not only what is revealed, but also what is concealed. This relationship between the seen and unseen is underlined by the interplay of transparency and opacity, and by ambiguity in spatial representation and the definition of volumes. The application of paint suggests weathering and corrosion, underlining the maritime origin of disruptive dazzle schemes. In places, lines, marks and other compositional elements are left visible in an apparent gesture of “truthfulness”, but in many cases these elements are spurious additions, introduced to undermine any suggestion of pictorial integrity.
Michael Miller, born in Glasgow, Scotland, trained in painting and drawing in Italy, Switzerland and Mozambique. On moving to the USA in 2010, Miller studied abstract painting, drawing and assemblage at the Art Students League of New York. In May 2012, he was awarded the League’s Henri Matisse Estate Merit Scholarship, and in 2014, he was selected as a visiting artist at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. In January 2016, Miller moved to Santiago, Chile, where he lived and worked until July 2017, when he returned to New York.
In addition to his regular art practice, Miller has been involved in a range of community-based public art projects in New York, and has supported a number of arts-based not-for-profits as a volunteer artist. From 2012 to 2015, he sat on the board of SONYA – South of the Navy Yards Artists – in Brooklyn. He also sat on the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s exhibit advisory committee.
Michael Miller is trained as a social scientist, and has studied at the Universities of Edinburgh, Leicester and Pennsylvania, as well as the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris. In 2001, he earned a PhD in contemporary history from the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. Miller is also a long-standing supporter of human rights, and has published work on a range of issues including violence against children, gender-based violence and the prevention of torture.