Suzanne Treister

The pioneering British conceptual artist Suzanne Treister trained at St Martin’s School of Art and Chelsea College of Art before spending time in Australia, New York and Berlin. During the 1980s, she became fascinated by video games, virtual reality and fictional worlds. Initially a painter, in the early 1990s Treister began using emerging digital technologies as artistic material.

In 1991 Treister purchased an Amiga computer and began creating fictional video game stills using Deluxe Paint II. She photographed these stills straight from the computer screen and produced her first photographic series, including Can You Open the Box? (1991). Treister says, ‘The effect of the photographs perfectly reproduced the highly pixelated, raised needlepoint effect of the Amiga screen image. Conceptually this means of presentation was also appropriate in that it made it seem like I had gone into a videogame arcade and photographed the games there, lending authenticity to the fiction.’

During 1991 Treister began painting in a radically different way to her previous practice. Discover the Secrets of The Universe (1991) is from her series of large text paintings which evolved out of her interaction with the computer and her ongoing conceptual considerations of meaning, technology, humanity and the future. Made up of repeating vibrant abstract brushstrokes, when viewed from further away words appear amongst the fluorescent dots like an optical illusion. Her style and use of text references the pixelated and digital effects she was achieving on a computer using Paint software and words.