Hunters After Jacob Esselens is a digital edition by Gordon Cheung based on the oil painting Landscapes with Hunters by Jacob Esselens, dated around 1660-1687 from the Rijksmuseum collection in Amsterdam. Cheung has created an exclusive video artwork for Sedition using glitch techniques where he applies a pixel sorting algorithm developed by Kim Asendorf, used to re-organise the pixels of a high-resolution image of the painting. At first imperceptible, the work gradually renders the painting into digital abstraction, what the artist thinks of as “digital sands of time” – metaphorically suggesting a cycle of history.
For Cheung, the relationship between hunter and landscape is a recurring theme throughout history since cave paintings. These scenes are “often romanticised as the dominant species within a majestic landscape, sometimes it is portrayed as a type of nostalgic form of escapism from the political climate of the era or perhaps even in the service of an ideology of conquest in the sense that the land is given by God therefore can be taken from those who do not worship a ’true’ God.”
In Hunters After Jacob Esselens, the image is rendered into a time-lapse animation that dissolves into abstraction after the pixels are re-ordered from light to dark. The figures fade in and out as the image of a classical landscape painting blurs and glitches reflecting a contemporary digital aesthetic. Cheung reflects on the present moment through his work: “As we step further into the new millennium our existential questions about the relationship between civilisation and nature become increasingly urgent.”