Dante Lentz

Axon Associates Portraits:

“Temporal compression, as it is technically called, is an event that concretely modifies everyone’s daily life at the same time. In the face of this acceleration of daily life, fear has become an environment, even in a time of peace.” – Paul Virillio


“Accelerate: to cause faster or greater activity, development, progress, advancement, etc.” – Axon


For my newest piece I amass portraits of employees, board members and the CEO of for-profit company Axon (fka Taser Int.). The company is gearing-up to create a nationwide network of police body cameras and software that identify people and their surroundings autonomously and store that information. In my performance the people of Axon have their faces projected on the painting surface while I paint their portraits until my facial recognition software identifies them. The music samples that are triggered increase the tension and speed with every moment passing, once a face is found the process repeats with a new associate. Axon is mistaking speed with progress and hoping that existing problems will be solved by acceleration.



The sound of drawing one symbol is recorded and played back while working on the opposite side. On one side the samples frequency increases with contact, on the other, it doesn’t play at full speed unless contact is made.

At my show in Chicago I use images of large crowds as the basis for my painting surface. On one side a crowd is facing away from the viewer, then the opposite, a crowd facing the viewer. In the middle (the third dimension) is an image from a media outlet that shows evidence that a crowd was “edited” to make it appear larger than actual events. Various symbols are then painted that attempt to address the 3rd dimension, a sword, an arrow, all are mirrored and diverted.


Software Explained:

Most of this centers around a complex computer program created by Cycling74 called MAX. In short, the program enables me to create a studio practice in which I can direct source material that triggers my approach to the painted surface. Learning the program has been a big transition for my studio practice and has taken me over two years of balancing art-making and learning a completely foreign software language. Even though there was a learning curve I am excited because I feel like my newest video “Axon Associates Portraits” is the first step out of the learning curve. Finally creating a Max program that integrates live visual and audio triggers and the recording of them in real time, which is insanely complex, especially on a budget.


Painting 3 dimensions:

The surface of these paintings are divided down the middle with a 3rd dimension that divides the flat painting surface. (Similar to an open book with a page sticking straight up.) A 2D image divided in half by another plane creates three different points of view with which to experience the object of the painting and the image it presents. This form is something that is conceptually repeated throughout my process and that I am investigating with MAX/MSP. The videos are then viewed via projection, so you are watchi­­­ng the process of creating the painting with all its added media on loop. Given the fact that there are multiple outcomes to a performance I have played with what is actually presented.


Performance Painting:

It’s kind of funny making performance paintings; I feel like I could easily fit in on Reality Television, or that there is this whole thing of successful painter-bros being filmed painting. This is where I think some semblance of humor comes into the work. Like when the horribly painted portrait is compared to a photograph and a sample screams “THEE EMPIRE!”


The interest in mimicking and breaking apart political structures in my work stems from a personal interest in information dissemination and the forces at work to confuse and warp knowledge on daily basis. Chomsky says about media and politics: “The goal is to undermine markets by creating uninformed consumers who will make irrational choices”. In a society where media’s complexities have reached new heights it seems important to understand what is in control.



Since I was a kid I have always noted, how music trends seem to emerge from obscurity and travel into the stratosphere where the requirements are a bath of bleach and a subtle chameleon act of the aesthetics of dissidents. Even though I understand the flawed simplicity of this idea I nonetheless find myself applying it to forms in my painting and politics. By adding a third dimension to the painting surface I can attempt to reference this “mirroring act.” Symbols change meaning when working in tandem with their mirror image. My goal is to map the invisible traces of power and my fear is to not fall into the trap myself.



2014 MFA, Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, MI.
2007 BFA, Temple University, Tyler School of Art, Phila, PA


081216: Samuel, Chicago, IL.
Home Is Where You’re Happy: EMBASSY, LA, CA
Untitled Performance: Safe Gallery, BK,NY.
Alleyoop Projects: Super Sketchy, NY, NY.

Tools of the trade: Cranbrook Art Museum

Gallery-A Award: Cranbrook
Mercedes-Benz Award Show (catalogue).

Vox VIII: Vox Populi curated by Ruba Katrib and Marlo Pascual.

Spotlights: Rebekah Templeton curated by Jon Lutz
Victory for Tyler: Crane Arts Building curated by Robert Storr
Heart Show: Storage Gallery

Undressing Race: Fox Art Gallery Upenn
FW&M Tapestries: Purdue University
Works on Paper Rejects: Little Berlin, Phila, Pa

Highwire Gallery: Group Show, Philadelphia, Pa.
Pier 3: Group Show, Philadelphia, Pa.

Tyler Gallery: BFA Show, Philadelphia, Pa.
Crane Arts: Group Show, Philadelphia, Pa.

Temple Rome Gallery: Group Show, Rome, It.
MICA/Tyler: Print Exchange


Fabric Workshop and Museum: Apprentice Program.