The subjects of William Betts’ latest paintings are stills from found and staged surveillance video. Through a proprietary software program, Betts has created a system whereby the black and white footage is translated into an RGB color palette, which is then pixelated in acrylics onto the canvas by machine. The first half of the show highlights the vague menace of the original medium’s generalization of people and places into pixelated villains and potential crime scenes. Much lighter in tone and tint are pieces from Betts’ traffic series, depicting the massive banality of automotive landscapes lit by streaming headlights or cramped in anonymous traffic jams. The paintings shift with the viewer’s motion, the grainy indistinctness of video dissolving with proximity into abstract, latter-day pointillism. Unfortunately, it is only from afar that they maintain their identity and register the strong psychic unease of ubiquitous surveillance. Up close the abstracted, mechanized fields of color fall flat—it is, after all, just dots. (Rachel Furnari)
Through Feb 23 at Peter Miller Gallery, 118 N. Peoria.