An intellectually stimulating exhibition with an annoying title, “Is This This That” at Greene Exhibitions contrasts the computer-generated work of Siebren Versteeg and Johannes Bendzulla with 1960s prints and sculpture by Norman Zammitt.
The result is an intriguing meditation not only on the line between human and machine but on the nature of authorship and creativity itself.
Versteeg, the standout, contributes a suite of six canvases that look like variations on the same gestural abstraction — looping black and white squiggles touched with green and purple. Further inquiry reveals they are prints created by software that Versteeg wrote to mimic the gestures, viscosity and texture of brushstrokes.
He then created six different such “painters” and ran them simultaneously, directing them to respond to what the other painters were doing. Computer, regard thyself.
By contrast, the three Zammitt works on view exhibit the precision and regularity we associate with computer art but are actually handmade.
Hard-edged honeycomb patterns in different colors are overlaid off-register to create rippling, pulsing optical effects that have the sheen of machine fabrication. Together with Versteeg’s computer mimicry of human hands, they approach a vanishing point between person and machine.
The first of a two-part exhibition, this show might have been stronger with only two artists' work. (The second part opens Sept. 26) Bendzulla’s use of a randomizer tool to mash up images of empty browser windows and icebergs feels forced and despairing. Like Versteeg, he turns the computer on itself, but only to create an empty echo chamber.
Greene Exhibitions, 1639 S. La Cienega Blvd., L.A., (310) 876-0532, through Sept. 19. Closed Sundays and Mondays. www.greene-exhibitions.com