Jeremy Rotsztain  Projects   Shop   About   News   Contact 

Action Painting (Masculine Expressionism) (2008 - 2011)

Project Brief

A series of "action paintings" in the style of Jackson Pollock composed using data from action movies as material.


Action Painting is a series of still and animated digital paintings composed using cinematic gestures from Hollywood action flicks. The series uses moving visual elements from popular action films — explosions (from Armageddon and Independence Day), fistfights (from Fight Club and Rocky), car chases (from Bullit and Bourne Identity), and gun shots (from Rambo and Terminator 2) — as compositional material to create works in the style of abstract expressionist painters such as Jackson Pollock.

Action Painting brings together the adrenalin-filled culture of action cinema and the formalist canon of modernist painting. It is a line of inquiry into spontaneity and self-expression that contrasts user-generated web 2.0 culture against the work of the genius craftsman — and action as a form of expression versus pure spectacle.

As action occurs in the original film, abstract forms move across a high-definition screen like paint flung onto a canvas, creating an animated composition. Action Painting is an example of an aesthetic digital image-making process where the material used in the production of the image provides additional layers of meaning. All of the source material was collected from Internet top 10 lists — top 10 explosions, movie fights, car chases, gun fights.

Action Painting consists of four distinct single-channel works that explore the visual language of a different action film trope. Monochromatic Bursts of Color is composed of the bursts, flames and smoke of explosions. Revving Motors, Spinning Wheels features spatially arranged car chases — humming motors, crashes, and screeching turns. Unrelenting Physical Aggression is created using violent punches, kicks, and smacks. Pitter Patter Splatter uses smoke and fire from pistols, handguns and automatic weapons.

All of the compositions are projected onto large scale canvases using high-definition projectors — in homage to the monumental surfaces used by abstract expressionist painters that hang in modern art museums around the world. Like the works of Rothko and Pollock, these screens will immerse viewers into an overwhelming cinematic experience.

Exhibition History

Digital Gestures at PushDot Studios. Portland, OR. August 2014.
Poetic Codings at San Jose ICA. San Jose, California. May 2014.
CINESONIKA 2013 conference. Derry, Northern Ireland. February 2013.
Poetic Codings at Fellows of Contemporary Art. Los Angeles. January 2013.
Byte Me! at AFRU Gallery. Porland, Oregon. January 2013.
Festival of (In)Appropriation (screening). Los Angeles. 2012.
Festival du Nouveau Cinema (screening). Montreal, Canada. 2012.
Monitor Digital. Guadalajara, Mexico. 2012.
Tehran Digital Art Exhibition at Mohsen Gallery. Tehran, Iran. 2012.
What We Call Painting at CERMÂ. Frankfurt, Germany. 2012.
Recapture at Galerie Rheeway. Los Angeles. 2012.
The Digital Gesture at Grimmuseum. Berlin, Germany. 2011.
Index Festival. New York City. 2011.
Simultan Festival (screening). Timisoara, Romania. 2010.
Play With Fire Festival. New York City. November 2009.


action painting, gesture, motion, spectacle, beauty, violence, Jackson Pollock, abstract expressionism, avant-garde, paint, canvas, splatter, action films, action flicks, car chases, explosions, fist fights, gun fights, sample, video painting, media painting, computer vision, openframeworks


Car Chases (for Pollock) Gunfire (for Pollock) Punches (for Pollock) Explosions (for Pollock)

More Media

The making of Action Painting

Additional videos (Vimeo)

Stills and sketches (Flickr)

Early videos (YouTube)


Video Stills (for Press)

Press Release

Source Code (Github)


The Creator's Project (interview)

The Creator's Project (article)

Creative Applications (2011)

Creative Applications (2009)

Create Digital Motion (2009)