What is it?
Tom Bamberger (b. Milwaukee 1948)
Multi-image digital installation
Purchased 2013, The Art Ball Fund
About the Work
Ok is a multi-image digital installation that challenges traditional notions of visual meaning. In the beginning, whenever an image caught his eye, Tom Bamberger would add it to a folder titled “Ok,” which he mined to create his screensaver. Today, three screens play host to a revolving set of images, drawn randomly from a bank of approximately eight thousand. Each image fades and changes after eight seconds, creating different combinations in an unending, visually hypnotic display; more than 512 billion combinations are possible.
The images come from diverse sources and constitute a visual compendium of Bamberger’s myriad interests: mathematics, art history, science, architecture, graphic design, philosophy, flowers, fish, historical documents, jazz, and a wide variety of explosions. Individual pictures themselves are visually arresting, but it is their relationship to one another that captivates the viewer’s attention—even when there is no apparent connection between them.
Bamberger professes skepticism for lofty claims made about the meaning of particular works of art. Often such meanings seem to have little connection to what is perceptually offered to the viewer, as if they were shoehorned in by the artist (or the critic) as an afterthought. Bamberger’s Ok engages with meaning in a different way. Rather than imputing his own significance to the images, he has created conditions for the viewer to construct meaning, stating: “Everything is out of context or placed into a different context, which changes the meaning. By their nature, the pictures are fragmentary, unbounded, they don’t tell the whole story. There is no single story.” Meaning can only be constructed by the viewer.