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Claudia Hart emerged as part of that generation of 90s intermedia artists producing what was known then as “identity art,” that she later filtered and updated through the scrim of rapidly developing technologies. Hart’s work is about issues of the body, perception and nature, charting the natural as it collapses into and merges with increasingly encroaching new technologies. In Claudia’s work everything is fluid, including gender. She considers it Cyborg-ish, so she creates liminal spaces, and is in love with the interface between real and unreal because it lends itself to contemplation and transformation.  

Hart was very early into virtual imaging, using 3D animation to make media installations and projections, then later as they were invented, other forms of VR, AR, and objects using computer-driven production machines, all adapted from the same computer models. She is considered a pioneer in this, taking a feminist position in a world without women when she entered the space 27 years ago, inspired by the French media artists of the 60s. 

Hart produces real things, not just mediated ones, meaning “mediated objects” (digitally enabled sculptures, drawings, paintings, wallpaper, crafts), and projections on painted walls and human bodies wearing sculptural screens of some sort. She produces bodies of work shown in galleries that then inspire performances that are shown in the experimental theater and performance context. 

Hart’s work is symbolist and poetic, not really narrative, but vaguely so, and is mesmerizing, hypnotic and formal. Bodies or natural forms like flowers always appear in her work. Hart calls her work, “post photography,” and has created a body of theoretical writings and exhibitions based on this concept. The occupants of her worlds are generated by computer models instead of captured with a camera. At The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she is now a Professor Emeritus, she developed a pedagogic program based on this concept. It is called Experimental 3D and is the first art-school curriculum teaching simulations-technologies.  

Hart’s works are widely exhibited and collected by galleries and museums including the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the National Gallery, Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, and the Albertina Museum, Vienna, The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, The Vera List Center Collection, The Borusan Contemporary Collection, The Carl & Marilynn Thoma Foundation Collection, The Anne and Michael Spalter Digital Art Collection, The Goetz Collection, The New York Public Library, the Addison Gallery of American Arts, Andover, MA, The Richard and Ellen Sandor Family Collection, and many other private collections. Her work has been exhibited at the New Museum, produced at the Eyebeam Center for Art + Technology, where she was an honorary fellow in 2013-14, and at the Center for New Music and Audio Technology, UC California, Berkeley where she is currently a fellow.

Claudia lives in a ramshackle Victorian house on the North Shore of Staten Island, New York City. She was born in the borough of Queens, in Queens County hospital, and is married to the Austrian media artist Kurt Hentschlager.





Claudia Hart was educated in art and architectural history in the late seventies and early eighties at NYU and Columbia University. This training was and remains formative to her digital art practice, one that emerged in the late nineties after she first exhibited intermedia work for a dozen years in the NY downtown art scene. Hart then transferred her analog practice into the digital space. As a result, she has always bridged these two worlds. 

Hart’s strategy is conceptual. She tends to make distinct bodies of work that track an art-historical research, setting herself up as both its subject and its object. Her work is profoundly reflexive and consistently so. Her approach is two pronged. 

As a feminist artist, Hart speaks in the voices of patriarchs. She expands on tropes borrowed from canonical  philosophers, poets, painters. In her first analog exhibitions, she impersonated Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Lord Byron and Niccolò Machiavelli.  In the late nineties, she reinvented herself as a digital artist but one concerned only with the virtual simulations that she thought of as “post-photography.” Hart then continued to channel history but thinking of her animations, experimental theater, VR and AR work as simulated historical “enactments” in an artificial world. As a digital artist, she appropriated the artistic styles of Renaissance and Baroque painters, Impressionist and Modernist masters, and in her audio work, the literary voices of Lewis Carroll, Thomas Jefferson, Henry Ford and Walter Gropius. Using historical references, Hart still embraces only emerging technologies, thinking of her translations of canonical art into digital form as part of an historical process that is also its meaning. In addition, Hart inverts the rationalist voice and esthetic language of canonical male patriarchs, turning them into something playful and fantastical. She appropriates sober historical aesthetics, reinventing them as theatrical decor and liminal environments.  

As an art historian, Hart analyzes and positions her own work and also the work of her peers. She traces the history of representation from the analog to the digital. She has curated many group exhibitions, written scholarly papers and developed pedagogy (in the form of curricular spine at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago) as well as publishing multiple book chapters and myriad critical writings, all about different aspects of post-photographic simulations. Hart places her own work and the work of fellow partisans of a “simulations” media-art community she also cultivated, into an emerging art history.  She contextualizes its various practices within a history that begins with the invention of mathematical perspective and extends through photography, finally arriving at the present moment when 3D animation, virtual and augmented realities and the NFT Metaverse have seized the public imagination.


Painting After Digital After Photography
Paintings, Augmented Ceramics and Wallpaper

This project reflects the chaos of our current moment, one that is in every way reflecting the paradigm shift we are also experiencing in the world of  art and pictures. We are currently transforming from photographic paradigm to another related but very different concept, that of the virtual. Photographic capture is physical.  Photographs are actually an imprint of light, focused by a lens, on a chemically treated film, re-transferred onto chemically treated paper to create a kind of fossil of something that happened in the tangible world. It started in the 19th and then mutated in the 20th-century to its most contemporary version of painting.  Virtual imaging simulates reality rather than inscribing it.  The virtual  eschews physical processes that rely on physical things (like chemicals!). It is instead based on ephemeral, conceptual models and is mathematical. Post-photographic painting sits on hundreds of years of accumulated data,  deploying the history of human scientific knowledge to make mathematical algorithms that model the natural world by using data and mathematics.

The science of modeling the natural world is called simulation technologies. Scientific information that we have collected over time concerning phenomenal experience is used to build a visual that resembles an architectural model as seen through the lens of a digital camera.  Simulations-technologies numerically calculate the impact of physical forces such as gravity or wind, the mathematics of light, gasses and lenses, and the measured and enumerated properties of real materials such as oak or granite. These calculations are tabulated by some of the most complicated software ever made. They are then visualized in representational form in a mathematical Cartesian space, in the same way that scientists and engineers visualize the impact of disease on the body, or stress on a bridge, or the workings of subatomic particles, or the outcome of nuclear war. These visualizations are viewed by computer operators in schematic, architectural form “inside” of their computers, meaning through a software interface, or “window.”  Such 3D software then also simulates a mathematical, digital model of a camera with an interface almost identical to that of a tangible digital camera, in turn derived from a traditional mechanical, analog camera. Instead of capturing the real in an indexical fashion like a photograph, Post Photography artists use measured calculations to simulate computer-generated models of the real.

Simulations-software is profoundly philosophical. It is epistemological, its graphical design reflecting the canons of scientific knowledge. This type of epistemological software stands on centuries of theoretical and scientific models of the real, and reflects the foundations of Western knowledge. The issues implied by it are made manifest at our own historical juncture where the culture of science and climate-change deniers along with every other version of a fact. now rule America. The manufacturing of fake truth in the form of misinformation and ubiquitous infotainment on social media are obviously epic. 

Claudia Hart makes paintings hover in a space between the natural and unnatural worlds. Her process is a kind of dance between the hand-made and the computer-assisted, between organic materials and simulated ones. Her images begin hand painted with a small brush. Hart then builds on those paintings, re-photographing them and then adding them to architectural models that she skillfully constructs in a computer game space, then paints free-hand on a tablet, finally using a computer-assisted air brush to layer pure pigment on fine-grained wood panels that she has painted, repainted and stained. These processes come together to create a liminal object. Hart has discovered a new way to paint, creating a work of uncanny beauty.


Hermitage Combines, 2021

In November 2021, I was invited by Dimitri Ozerkov, the Director of Contemporary Art at The Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia, to participate in his on-line exhibition, The Ethereal Aether. For the show, programmers recreated the old Leningrad Stock Exchange as a social virtual-reality website, so that users could don digital avatar bodies to explore the show on their home computers. The exhibit inspired me, and for the first time I was able to understand NFT as an extension of my installation-based practice.  For it, I produced two Hermitage Digital-Combine NFT that that I ultimately combined with a physical painting, produced by means of a complex process mixing hand painting and painting made by a digitally-controlled airbrush machine with natural materials into a complex whole. After the initial on-line project, I showed the Hermitage combines in tangible life, where each painting was an element in a single piece that included a poetic text, and was mounted on custom augmented-reality Hermitage wallpaper.  I have shown these works several times in this manner. The first was in an exhibition that I curated at bitforms gallery, San Francisco in 2022, entitled Digital Combines, along with six other artists work. I showed them again in 2023, in Dimensions: Digital Art since 1859, a project of Stiftung für Kunst und Kultur e.V., Bonn curated by Richard Castelli, in Leipzig, that included the work of 50 international artists.

All Digital Combines are memento mori, and meditations on decay. These particular pieces are inspired by appropriated photographs, shot during WWII in the Louvre in Paris and in the Hermitage - during the blockade of Leningrad (currently called Saint Peterburg). At this time, Allied troops were retreating from the Nazis, who idolized the Western painting canon and so were systematically pillaging. Both museums, currently pitted in opposition as the West restarts a new version of the mid twentieth-century Cold War, are filled with empty picture frames, the masterpieces of both collections having been removed and safely hidden in the countryside in advance of an invading Nazi army. I am also using the empty frame as a symbol of the NFT. To me the NFT as a phenomenon is interesting because it is polarizing - a disruptor – and therefore one half of my Digital-Combine form. I think of them as paradoxical constructs, produced for an era of radical political and cultural instability.



The Ruins implements still lifes, the classical form of a memento mori, to contemplate the decay of western civilization. In this exhibition, Hart revises the canons of modernist painting and the manifestos of failed utopias. Exhibited works are meditations on the flow of history, expressed as a cycle of decay and regeneration. The Ruins is an antidote to a world in crisis, navigating from a Eurocentric paradigm of fixed photographic capture into a reality of malleable and inherently unstable computer simulations and systemic collapse. The exhibition presents a different notion of time, a present that viewers experience through the possibility of simulation technologies that use scientific data to model natural forces, the crystallization of past, future and present into a perpetual now.

The Ruins, the central artwork from which the exhibition gains its title, is an audiovisual animation tracking through a claustrophobic game world from which there is no escape. As the three-channel maze unravels, Hart introduces her newest interpretation of still lifes—low polygon models. These models, hearkening to the idea of a poor copy or image popularized by Hito Steryl, are computer-made replications of copyright-protected paintings. Taken from works by Matisse and Picasso, patriarchs of the Modernist canon, these forms cover The Ruins in flirtatious copyright infringement. Copyright marks the beginning of Modernism as a response to the emerging technology of photography. Music composed by Edmund Campion furthers the ethos of modernism through the tactical mixing of failed Utopian ideologies: Thomas Jefferson On American Liberty; The Bauhaus Manifesto by Walter Gropius; Fordlandia, Henry Ford’s failed suburban rubber plantation in the Amazon rainforest; and Jim Jones’s sermon, The Open Door. Campion has processed and mixed each recording read by the artist, using Hart’s voice as an instrument that serves as the soundtrack to both the animation and the exhibition itself.  

The Still Life With Flowers by Henri Fantin-Latour exists as a three-dimensional sculptural object made from walnut, bleached basswood, and maple, with blossoms in burnished resin. It is a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy—and therein lies its unique character. Hart created this work first through production with a computer model, developed in fastidious imitation of the 1881 original. She then transitioned the digital rendering to a physical object with a CNC router and rapid-prototype printer. Later returning to the model, she dissolved the source into a low polygon model to be placed within The Ruins. Together in the exhibition, the poor copy and sculptural form incite an allegory on the passage of time, decay, and obsolescence. 

The third component in The Ruins is Hart’s custom augmented wallpapers. Borrowing motifs that also appear inside her animations, the artist telescopes time and space from her virtual world to real life. Using The Ruins App, visitors can see animations embedded in the wallpaper that combine written allegories, animated abstract patterns, and heraldries of collapsed corporate empires, made visible only through the camera of a smart device.

The final part of this exhibition comes as a series of three monumental animations, The Orange Room, Green Table, and Big Red. In continuation of her study of copyright-protected twentieth-century painting, these video animations were prompted by the significant collection of the Art Institute of Chicago and her work there as a professor at the School of the Art Institute. Hart imports the compositional structures of The Red Paintings by Henri Matisse to propose a paradigm shift in painting practice, creating monumental animations at real painting scale. These works are constructed as images-within-images, architectures that open onto windows and doors, and lead into simulated landscapes bestowed with animated paintings, carpets and wallpapers. The digital, pictorial clockworks turn at different rates and temporal schemes to mesmerize viewers, ushering them into a state of contemplation. 

Music and software programming for the custom algorithmic sound engine by Edmund Campion, Director, Center for New Music and Audio Technologies, UC Berkeley. Original spoken voice recording by Claudia Hart. This piece utilizes the CNMAT “Resonators~” synthesis object designed by Adrian Freed. Special thanks to Jeremy Wagner and CNMAT for support with sound installation.  

The Ruins is live as a virtual exhibition for Mozilla Hubs, designed and supported by Matthew Gantt. It is featured in Ars Electronica’s 2020 festival hub, along with a video interview with Claudia Hart about the project.



E represents the condition of the contemporary woman in today's post-industrial, technological society. E can mutate her face and body, adapting it to coordinate to the style of her clothing, here all the designs of my own creation mixed with those of the most extreme idea-driven designers of contemporary fashion. E is beautiful, but she is nevertheless the ultimate fashion victim: her face is so mutable that its transformations render her actually faceless. Converging the potential of bioengineering with the contemporary reality of endless fashion-based marketing cycles, E is a metaphor of woman as the ultimate consumer product in a dystopic future world in which the artificial has uneasily crossed the boundary of the real.


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