Leegte reinvigorates the Impressionist plein-air method by swapping the actors. The field painter is reintroduced as an algorithm ‘venturing into the wild’ by visiting online photography databases and randomly selecting images with queries like ‘mountains’, ‘forests’ or ‘sunsets’.
Having found an image, the algorithm then compresses the file maximally, creating a raw computational impression of a delocalised landscape: a compressed landscape.
The Compressed Landscapes series is on view online and as soon as museums are allowed to reopen, on display in the museum galleries.
The series comprises five individual websites, in which every twenty seconds a new image is randomly fetched from the internet.
This image is then maximally compressed, rendering it as an algorithmic impression of a landscape. The work is infinite, searching and collecting new images as the never-ending flow of user uploads change the databases.
In the spirit of artworks from the museum collection, such as Vincent van Gogh's Wheat Field with Partridge and Leo Gestel's Autumn Day, Leegte offers a contemporary perspective on landscape painting as coloured by the dramatic changes of the artist’s role, technology and nature.
Jan Robert Leegte:
‘The Compressed Landscapes series is on display at the Van Gogh Museum so that people can view the works in a historical context, surrounded by paintings from a different era.’
‘Thus, visitors can take their time enjoying the works in the way they would contemporary paintings. But Internet art can also be seen in the wild from home. The fact that Compressed Landscapes can be visited in many different ways makes it really special, that's the strength of this work.’