Petra Cortright: Art In America: Immersive Art: New Realities and Virtual Worlds
Working with the VR developer Float Land, she created a fully immersive environment that explodes one of her Photoshop files, with each digital layer becoming a discrete are to explore.
By William S. Smith
Published in issue: Jan/Feb 2021
The concept of layers is essential to understanding Petra Cortright's work. The intricate digital paintings she has created over the past decade take advantage of the powerful "layer" function at the heart of Photoshop. Every digital mark and brushstroke she makes using the image-editing software can be isolated and manipulated in its own slice of virtual space before being flattened and printed on canvas. But what if, instead of flattening these layers, they could be expanded in three dimensions?
Petra Cortright in The Museum of Modern Art Collection
Petra Cortright’s critically renowned work VVEBCAM, 2007, has been acquired by The MoMA’s Department of Media and Performance.
VVEBCAM received lots of search hits, and some people expressed their anger at its misleading descriptors in the comments section below it. Cortright, in turn, robustly answered her critics in the spirit of the Internet burn. Her spammy keywords led to the video’s eventual pulling from YouTube in 2010.
Cortright’s video and the swirling interactivity around it made VVEBCAM one of the first social media artworks, and it remains one of the most influential. It engaged with a highly volatile, anonymous digital populace, one that has become a dominant force in today’s socio-political landscape.
Why Should a Webcam Plus a Woman Equal Sex? For Petra Cortright, It's Art
The artist uses the web to create striking, ethereal art that sometimes seems too simple to be true.
JULY 10, 2018
At 31, Cortright is young for a survey (“Too young,” she told Vice in February), but she’s long been recognized as a pioneer in the field of what’s often called post-internet art, meaning work that deals, tangentially or directly, with the web. Her paintings—meticulously layered Photoshop files that incorporate images she finds online (roses, kitchens, beach scenes) with digital drawings (flowers, squiggles) printed on aluminum, silk, or flags—prompted the website Artsy to declare Cortright “the Monet of the 21st Century.”