Digital Project
04 Dec 2014 - 28 Jan 2015

Penelope Umbrico - Sun/Screen

On the Media Wall

Sun/Screen is a new project by award-winning New York based artist Penelope Umbrico, which continues her exploration of the ever-increasing production and consumption of photographic images online.  Using an iPhone, she re-photographed a range of found images of the sun from her computer screen, resulting in a hypnotic sequence of ‘moiré’ patterns – a consequence of different digital images de-generating as they merge with one another.

The shimmering hazy illusion of heat and light lends a material quality to the screen itself and conversely is more suggestive of natural sunlight than the original images, inviting questions about the nature of reproductions and verisimilitude.

Alongside Sun/Screen, we are also showing Never-ending Sunset (Second Life), 2011 in the gallery lift. Continuing her meditation on simulated light, the piece features an endless sunset setting over an artificial sea derived from the virtual world Second Life. Programmed to defy the laws of time and nature, this piece delivers a fantasy of what a perfect sunset might be.

Penelope Umbrico (b. 1957, Philadelphia, USA) is a photo-based artist whose work explores the ever-increasing production and consumption of photographs on the web. Umbrico has exhibited internationally and her work is in the permanent collections of the Guggenheim Museum; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; Museum of Modern Art, NY; Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, among others. She is the recipient of numerous awards including a recent Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship. Aperture published her monograph, Penelope Umbrico (photographs), 2011 and forthcoming monographs include Range, 2014, Aperture; and Out of Order, 2014, RVB Paris.

Penelope Umbrico - Sun/Screen. Installation Photo © Kate Elliot, 2014.


Sun Burn (screensaver) comprises of a video loop of 365 images of suns cropped from sunsets that Penelope Umbrico found on Flickr.

The work -  exhibited between the 5th and 6th floors of The Photographers' Gallery - refers to old screen technology in which persistent images would have burned into the very fabric of the screen. Since the longevity of our newer screens is no longer effected by steady light or form in one place, current screen-savers function purely for entertainment and distraction, using more energy than if the computer were allowed to just go to sleep.

Download the screensaver for Windows or Mac here:

Windows (XP or later)
Mac (OS X 10.4 or later)

Related event

Fri 16 Jan 2015, 18:00
Penelope Umbrico In Conversation with Katrina Sluis

In conversation with Katrina Sluis, Penelope Umbrico will discuss her body of photographic work to date, which has explored web imagery, mobile apps and the cultural value of the photograph in digital culture.