Jeff Zilm
Relics of the Epoch
September 17 - October 22, 2016
Los Angeles

Various Small Fires (VSF) is pleased to present Jeff Zilm’s Relics of the Epoch, the artist’s Los Angeles debut and first solo exhibition with the gallery.


In his latest series of “emulated paintings” Zilm sources digital image files recovered from his defunct Macintosh computer installed with the System 7.1 operating system (c. 1992-1994), which serves as a personal time capsule of drawings by the artist from the mid-1990s. Using an online image emulator, he redraws and stacks multiple layers of the retrieved images, from which he forms a ‘negative collage’ that becomes increasingly frenetic by removing, splicing, skewing and cropping selections. Implementing an absurdist practice of digital image forensics, Zilm describes the process as an autopsy of his own work, examining and piecing together palimpsests of personal visual detritus.


Zilm prints the resulting digital collages on Kodak canvas with a large format UV printer, continuing his investigation of painting as a transcription of media and a carrier of temporalities. Sometimes he finishes the work with airbrush or affixes additional printed material to the face of the painting, further destabilizing the layers of hypnotic patterns. The soft boundary of the airbrush becomes a pulse from which the rest of the schematic background seems to vibrate outward, causing a disorienting optical effect. These “emulated paintings” follow from Zilm’s “film paintings” series, in which pigment was extracted from the emulsification of early 20th Century black and white film reels, as Zilm continues to mine obsolete formats of visual media for reconstitution as paintings on canvas (the most obsolete and yet persistent of media formats).


In the gallery’s outdoor courtyard are three readymade sculptures, each a large weatherproof antenna with mounting hardware. As conduits that transmit radio wave signals encoded with visual and audible media, these antennae function as synecdochal totems for Zilm’s transmedia painting practice.


Actualizing the transmissions implied by these antennae, Zilm includes a sound work that reverberates into the courtyard from VSF’s Sound Corridor, sampled from a late-1980s film soundtrack, which having been digitally processed, distorted, and reconstituted, gives audible effect to Zilm’s media vertigo.



Jeff Zilm (b. 1958 in Iowa City, Iowa) lives and works in Dallas, Texas. Zilm received his BA in Art History from the University of North Texas and his MFA at Southern Methodist University (2011). He was the recipient of the Otis and Velma Davis Dozier Grant from the Dallas Museum of Art (2002) and was an Artist in Residence at The Chinati Foundation (2008). Zilm has been the subject of recent solo museum and gallery exhibitions at the Dallas Contemporary, Dallas, TX; Simon Lee Gallery, London, UK; The Journal Gallery, Brooklyn, NY; AND NOW, Dallas, TX; Preteen Gallery, Mexico City, Mexico; and Oliver Francis Gallery, Dallas, TX. Zilm’s work has been included in numerous group exhibitions including ARNDT, Singapore; Venus Over Manhattan, New York, NY; and The Jewish Museum, New York, NY. In the 1990’s Zilm wrote for Semiotext(e) and participated in the groundbreaking online Digital Art exhibition Digital Studies: Being In Cyberspace, curated by Alexander Galloway.




Nimptsch, Emily. “Jeff Zilm: Relics of the Epoch” Artillery, September 21, 2016 | | PDF |