An Interview with William Betts of Wynwood!

IMG_9681Photo by Ashley Pineiro

Today I got to interview artist William Betts, in his studio in Wynwood. He is originally from New York City, however he lived in Huston, TX for twenty years. While living there, he started out by doing photo based abstractions, but changed his direction while living in London. The London bombings in 2005 is what sparked this idea of pixelated paintings. He looked at some of the imagery traveling around the internet and was surprised to find that their government was able to get clear surveillance shots of the bombers leaving the subway. It hit home for Betts, because it was the subway stop he used to go to every day when he lived in London. The images were already fascinating to him formally, however pixelating them and breaking them down into paintings was a way to help the topic become a conversation piece, and to explain the concepts behind it all. It was a way to help wake people up about the issue of surveilence and our right to privacy.

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CCTV stills, traffic cams, and photographs are sources for his unsettling, blurry paintings which look like low res pixialated images. CNC paintings are an extention of his paintbrush. CNC is software controlled machinery. Betts asked to license the rights to the Texas Department of Transportation cameras to use their survelence images. The information helped him to develop his ideas about painting.  He was able to process the images and translate them into dots of acrylic paint. All of his work comes from a photographic source, he extracts the data and then puts in back into a painting, which almost becomes a second concept for his paintings among many other layers.

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The issues he works with will continue to be centered around technology and how it gives us a way to see the world differently. Betts feels caught off gaurd by Instagram and Facebook, like many of us. He explains,”It changes how we see and process information, almost like a new language. I can’t help but ask how we should go about adopting this into our culture?”

“Living in miami, there is a struggle to find public private balance because you have this illusion of privacy; you go down to the hotels on south beach and there’s paparazzi everywhere, theres always people taking pictures.” Betts feels Wynwood is a great place to do his work, since street art brings people here, and that helps him to get his word out about our right to privacy and human surveillance. When he came to Art Basel last year, he liked the weather, and liked the scene, so he moved here. “Miami is a new place and takes time to put down roots and to become imbibed in a city’s culture. its affected my development as an artist, where I’m going to go with my work, and my life style.”

Article by Ashley Pineiro