ARTerrain(.org) Gallery.

Scott Bailey
The Digital Frontier


For’s “Ruin and Renewal” issue, I’ve chosen to highlight a few directions in my work in recent years exploring new ways we experience the landscape through technology that both reveals and obscures it. Whether through the vernacular of painting or interdisciplinary forms such as sculpture, video, and installation, my work has often expressed a reverence for the landscape and a desire to understand its influence on us, as well as our influence on it. While I am no longer satisfied by looking at the landscape through the traditional lens of plein aire painting, I still strive toward the representation of an authentic experience of the world around me.


In my most recent series, it is especially the process of painting that provides the link to this issue of, where the surface of the piece has been built up and distressed multiple times. I start with detailed data, in the form of Digital Elevation Models (DEM) from the USGS, of the terrain around my home in central Washington. That data is transformed through 3D design software into a triangulated mesh, which becomes the foundation of the work and a form of objective truth about that section of Earth. Next comes the process of creating the unholy marriage with the expressive, painterly response to that landscape. The mesh lines, derived from high-tech computer processes, appear incised in a thick, impasto paint layer—handmade and human.

  • Naneum Meshscape
  • Colockum Meshscape
  • Mission Meshscape
  • Jumpoff Ridge Meshscape
  • Detail of Jumpoff Ridge Meshscape

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Earthly Constellations

With this group of paintings I courted uncertainty in the sense that, while these are actually very specific representations of particular places as seen from space at night, they also resemble views of constellations, as if looking away from Earth toward space. While the abstract, formal qualities of the paintings aim to inspire a transcendent aesthetic experience for the viewer, the historical and geopolitical realities of the locations of these pieces promote more complex and paradoxical feelings. Each of the cities represented are sites of dramatic transformations, ruin, and renewal.

My process for this series mimics a digital printing process by primarily using transparent drops of cyan, magenta, and yellow. With the canvases lying on the floor, paint was splattered from above in a progression of controlled accidents. I see the millions of incidences of drops of color hitting the canvas as metaphors or markers of people, places, or events. Through the process, I felt that I was meditating in a very personal and physical way on the locations.

  • 1Bailey Mecca.Jerusalem Diptych
  • 2Bailey.Nagasaki.Hiroshima
  • 3Bailey.Seoul
  • 4Bailey.Baghdad
  • 5Bailey.DetailNO

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This body of work is provoked by the desire to turn a cold and detached, hi-tech surveillance image into a series of high-touch, formally elegant objects of art. These paintings, like much of my work, contemplate the overlapping dualities of abstraction and realism, beauty and repulsiveness, and tradition and innovation.

A single NASA Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) photo taken of Baghdad on the morning of March 31, 2003 inspires all of the pieces. In the photo, areas of vegetation appear red because of the wavelengths used to make the image.

The installation view of the Infrared exhibition shows large painting on carpet, a provocation to viewers who found it challenging to walk on the work of art in order to view the surrounding wall-hung pieces. The carpet painting was best viewed from above, on the second floor balcony of the gallery.

  • 1Bailey.Infrared.overview
  • 2Bailey.InfraredDiyala
  • 3Bailey.InfraredKadhimiya
  • 4BaileyInfraredHaifa
  • 5Bailey.InfraredKarada

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Issue No. 30 ARTerrain  :  ARTerrain Home  : Home

All images in this ARTerrain Gallery are copyright © by Scott Bailey.