As of today, the Van Gogh Museum presents Dutch artist Jan Robert Leegte’s website series Compressed Landscapes.
Fully accessible to the public, the series – comprising five works inspired by Vincent van Gogh – is the ideal form of 'lockdown art'.
For now, Compressed Landscapes can be seen online, but as soon as museums are allowed to reopen their doors to the public, you will also be able to enjoy the series at the Van Gogh Museum.
Leegte x Van Gogh
Jan Robert Leegte (1973) has been making Internet art in the form of websites since the 1990s. In 2002, he began introducing digital materials in the physical exhibition space, to create a connection between the online art world and the world of museums and art galleries. The artist is represented by the Upstream Gallery in Amsterdam.
For Compressed Landscapes Leegte drew inspiration from the methods of 19th-century artists such as Vincent van Gogh and his contemporaries. With this series, Leegte attempts to breathe new life into 19th-century artists’ plein air painting: where the latter went outdoors to paint landscapes using brushes, Leegte applies algorithms to the wilderness of the Internet.
These algorithms visit online photo databases such as Flickr, and randomly select images on the basis of search terms such as 'mountains', 'forests' or 'sunset'. Once such images have been found, the algorithm compresses them into tiny files. The result of this computer process are digital impressionistic landscapes.
As the algorithm is constantly searching for images, the result is five ever-changing and therefore always unique internet artworks: