Jan Robert LeegteMountains and Drop Shadows

HERE Opening event
Saturday 25th November 2023

4 - 5pm: Jan Robert Leegte with Pita Arreola (Digital Art Curator, V&A)-
5 - 6pm: Haroon Mirza with Kostas Kostas Stasinopoulos (Curator, Serpentine)
6 - 10pm: DJ set by AHMD (Artists Eddie Peake, Prem Sahib and George Henry Longly)

Free & Open to Public
25 - 26 Nov 2023

9 Cork St
London W1S 3LL

Upstream Gallery presents Mountains and Drop Shadows by Jan Robert Leegte.

The work explores the stark contrast between the natural grandeur of mountains as sculptural expressions and the ethereal, digital materiality of drop shadows.

Mountains and Drop Shadows will be released as a series of 80 NFTs on Ethereum. Each NFT will be a unique responsive website containing a generative JavaScript/CSS animated drop shadow over a JPEG background image.

Mountains are grand natural statements of sculptural expression. They are birthplaces of sublime monumentality and romanticism. Their crumbs are the raw materials that provided us with a long tradition of sculpture.

In another realm there is the ambiguous materiality of the digital, the human-made bits and bytes, in constant flow through systems, from which a new order of materials emerge at the surface of the interface. Among them is the user interface phenomenon of the drop shadow. A material bereft of all our notions of materiality, it being nothing but the absence of light cast upon a surface due to an obstructing object. In the work the shadow has been severed from a non existent casting object making it less then nothing. But also the drop shadow being a digital simulacrum adds another step deeper into ethereality, making it almost a shadow of shadows. This places it in direct opposition to the most earthly rooted of them all, the mountain.

Jan Robert Leegte

Jan Robert Leegte, *Mountains and Drop Shadows*, on view at HERE

Jan Robert Leegte, Mountains and Drop Shadows, on view at HERE

Mountains and Drop Shadows is a continuation of a line of work going back to 2013, with the net art piece in which a live script would continuously fetch images tagged ‘mountains’ from online databases. Because of this, the landscapes would become anonymised and delocalised, merely becoming an image, often ending as a humble desktop image.

For this most recent iteration of the work, querying databases felt like a thing of the past, as all those images have been added to the datasets of various image generating AI services. Mountains and Drop Shadows, 2023 uses AI generated mountain images, a mashup of all images of existing mountains, fully erasing the subjectivity of the photographer and a-localising the image.

The work is a sculptural desktop standoff between a mountain dreamt up by the internet and a drop shadow. Embodiment vertigo on the summits of the interface.

Jan Robert Leegte

Jan Robert Leegte, *Mountains and Drop Shadows*, on view at HERE

Jan Robert Leegte, Mountains and Drop Shadows, on view at HERE


Jan Robert Leegte

Jan Robert Leegte (born 1973, The Netherlands) is one of the first Dutch artists to work on and for the Internet since the 1990s. In 2002, he shifted his main focus to implementing digital materials in the context of the physical gallery space, aiming to bridge the online art world with the gallery art world, making prints, sculpture, installations, drawings, and projections, connecting to...
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Upstream Gallery

Since its establishment in 2003, Upstream Gallery has quickly gained a credible international reputation among collectors, art institutions and critics, and is a perfect example of Amsterdam’s internationally renowned contribution to contemporary art. With a focus on radical, engaged, conceptual and digital art, Upstream Gallery brings pioneering and critical work from over 20 artists from the...
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