Standing the Test of Time: How Ashley Zelinskie Creates Art for the Future


You’re going to die. Your body will decay. But you knew this already. Our mortality is no surprise, our lives have a natural end… unless, of course, this world turns into a sci-fi dystopia where super computers take over. The latter, Ashley Zelinskie, a Brooklyn-based artist whose work blurs the lines between art and technology, tells me,  is more or less what will happen if we don’t somehow merge with computers.

“There’s no way of predicting what the future has to hold, though one can guess,” says Zelinskie, who foresees humanity “being left in the dust” by machines if humans continue our current evolutionary standstill. So in full preparation of a future without humankind, and an instinctive drive to preserve our vast artistic and social history, Zelinskie’s art transforms traditional objects into mathematical equations that can be appreciated by both humans and computers.

“I’m creating art for the future, so a lot of my sculptures are made with mathematics because math is the universal language,” she says.


Does this all sound a little too sci-fi for you? Well, as a self-described nerd, Zelinskie is ok with that; what she really cares about is creating artwork that goes “beyond the little bubble of humanity.” Her interest in outer space is apparent in her Bushwick studio, which is adorned in Star Trek paraphernalia, and contains her self-assembled 3D printers (named Wall-E and Eve) and a portable chalkboard covered in binary code—the language in which computers “think.” Geometric pieces from her recent Reverse Abstraction series are scattered throughout the studio; each sculpture is a 3D-printed rendering of an inanimate object with its digital makeup—either binary code or DNA sequence—embedded within. These dual form sculptures, a shape humans understand and the shape’s code so a computer can understand, are Zelinskie’s way of bridging the gap between the two entities.

“I think art is the most human thing you can do that’s why I think it is important to take these old ideas that we’ve been pondering for years and making art about for years, and turn them into math, so that people or whatever in a billion years from now can understand where we were coming,” Zelinskie says. “It’s about sharing what makes us human by distilling it down to other entities. It’s a time capsule. Art should start preserving ideas mathematically so we can stand the test of time.”

You can find Zelinskie at Art Basel Miami at booth A32 with TORCH Gallery from December 3-6.


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