June 27 - August 7, 2020

Universal Approximator

(View Exhibition Online HERE)

Jeff Thompson

Residency: May 20 - June 17, 2020

Part of Artist-in-Residence

Universal Approximator   Jeff Thompson, Touch, Website, sound, custom software (2020)


Jeff Thompson (Jersey City, NJ)

ON VIEW: June - August

SPACES is excited to present Jeff Thompson's newly commissioned solo show online (link below). Viewers may also sign up for appointment slots in our galleries to receive a personal introduction to this exhibition and printed take away (sign-up below, under tickets). Your appointment grants access to all exhibitions on view during that time.

Online Exhibition


In The Book Of Tea, Kakuz┼Ź Okakura writes “Translation is always a treason, and... can at its best be only the reverse side of a brocade – all the threads are there, but not the subtlety of colour and design.” This exhibition is about what happens between the front and back of the cloth, the lossy mechanism of translation by which something (the messy world) is turned into something else (systems).

Data is a massive industry, gobbling up every move you make online and scaping millions of images of faces and everyday objects, turning those mundane bits into systems that serve us targeted ads, understand our desires and fears, drive cars, guess if we are homosexual, assign us a social credit score, and determine who is released from prison. The title of this exhibition, Universal Approximator, comes from a theory in artificial intelligence that claims any real-world object can be represented by a mathematical function. This kind of techno-optimism fuels the data industry but, like Borges' map, the resulting system is always an approximation.

The pieces in this show – animations made from people's touch gestures as they scroll through my website, photographs of every leaf from a single tree, a generative text piece made from found sentences about windows and sky – are born out of an impulse to create collections of mundane objects, the surprising differences each part has, and the loss that happens as we try to convert them into a digital, singular form.

About the Artist

Jeff Thompson

Jeff Thompson is an artist, programmer, and educator based in the NYC area. Through code, sculpture, sound, and performance, Thompson's work physicalizes and gives materiality to otherwise invisible technological processes.He has exhibited and performed his work internationally at venues including the Museum of the Moving Image, Tufts University, Fridman Gallery,... go to artist page

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