Ready and restless, Rachel Rossin toggles between mediums. Many painters and sculptors, curious to cross over into the digital world of augmented or virtual realities, commonly ask a more technologically inclined friend to "collaborate" as an engineer. That individual often ends up doing the bulk of the work however, but as Rachel Rossin works with both digital and physical brushes, she functions as her own tech-savvy assistant.
Painting feels like a body, a heavy body, to someone with a digital mind and eye. Her first thought was to mine the digital as a subject matter for compositions, to work in a digital space and paint screen grabs to bring the synthetic light sources into the bodily medium of oil painting. Rossin freed herself from that strategy by moving into paintings that integrated digital fan displays, a sort of double-vision move that allowed the digital to feel more ephemeral and spirit-based instead of rooted in the body, a quality natural to video. Her digital facility allowed these compositions to feel balanced in their airyness, figurative while still being casual and not overdetermined.
Though Rossin has spent years as a painter in various forms of figuration, a complexity to her practice is illustrated through a clipping from a local Florida newspaper asking a then thirteen-year-old Rachel to state an "interesting fact” about herself. "I have my own website," Rachel responded, and in the year 2000, that meant she was coding HTML and using the FTP client Cyberduck to build back ends of websites. Those digital roots go back even further to being an eight year old who made webrings with neopets, Shoyru only, and eventually used Angelfire and Geocities to showcase her dragon drawings.
As she brings things from the digital to a wall, she also undergoes the opposite journey of diving more deeply inside the virtual. We see her in Password Protected like a miner with a headset; the deeper she descends, the more dizzying and unfamiliar the world seems. She's stubborn about her pursuit, and the software seems to be updating and refining itself around her. She spends time in her virtual rig, not just painting and world building, but in virtual chat rooms to explore what others are making with the same DIY attitude.
Immanuel Kant classified painting as furniture, attempting to strip the medium of its spirituality by equating it with a luxury good. Rossin’s toggling between paint that’s physical and digital becomes less about making an object and more about textures brushing up against one another. Ultimately that friction creates the four-dimensional spirit of her practice.