Technology has been prevalent in the art world since the early nineties. Alan Rath, Nam June Paik, Bill Viola, Jim Campbell to name a few have pioneered electronic, video, computer and interactive art, all summed up now under “new media” art. Along with the introduction of the digital camera to mainstream market, “new genre” was introduced to art programs to address the use of technology as an art form. Engineers and artists started sharing ideas and exploring possibilities. In 2001, MIT graduate Casey Reas and Ben Fry co-wrote Processing, an open source programming language built for electronic arts, and new media. With all that in place, generative art exploded and galleries and museums followed closely behind by embracing this new art form. Though media art is able to take a visual experience beyond the surface and sometimes turn the passive viewer into an active participant, it remains a challenge for many collectors. While Alan Rath and Nam June Paik consciously exposed the hardware like a canvas, Jim Campbell and Bill Viola made sure that the technology was as little invasive as possible and returned to the fundamentals of art, letting an image and an idea tell the story. Moving forward fifteen years and a new wave of media artists and installation artists – thanks to the inevitable advance of the technology with smaller portable devices, enhanced visual displays, storage space and Apple. Media artists continue to push the boundaries of technology venturing into the software world taking a chance in exchanging ideas with a code rather than a brush. Where abstract painters often rely on intuition to free themselves of any conscious direction, media artists rely or create algorithms to alter and challenge the preset disposition of the software.
“CODE and NOISE” is an exhibition that presents fifteen artists from Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, the Bay Area, and China who use, create or leverage software to produce works that are engaging, stimulating and invite us to ponder many current issues such as the environment, memory, art history, data collection, emotions and surveillance.
“Creativity drives both the digital world and the artistic world, so the synthesis of the aesthetic and technological that is on display in CODE and NOISE, an exhibition of eleven artists from around the world who employ computers to explore new visions of the world, makes for a fitting introduction to the fair, located as it is, just inside the entrance. Curated by Christine Duval (formerly of Limn Gallery San Francisco, and previously Frumkin-Duval Gallery, and now an independent curator: duvalcontemporary.com), the beautifully installed show features work by JD Beltran & Scott Minneman, Mel Day & Frank Ham, Laurie Frick, James Lanahan, Ligorano/Reese, Clive McCarthy, Simon Pyle, teamLab and Yang Yonglian that touches on urgent contemporary concerns enumerated in the show’s press release – “the environment, memory, art history, data collection and surveillance” – with laser-cut drawings (Frick), video collages (Beltran & Minneman), dropped-computer digital photo randomizing (Lanahan), painting alogrithms (McCarthy), animated landscape imaging (Yong), the dialogue between printed and electronic media (Day & Ham) and digital reconnaissance of the art viewer (Pyle). Photographer James Lanahan, one of the inventors of the digital camera, declared that in today’s world, code underlies everything – or, at least everything as represented culturally. Noise is (as I understand it) random signals, or signals that we cannot decipher. The title CODE and NOISE thus aptly symbolizes the interplay between style and content, medium and message, in a rapidly evolving technosphere.” DeWitt Cheng
Pyle is a photographer investigating the digital photographic technology. Using basic photographic programs and devices, Pyle reveals the gap between what exists in the world and what we see in images and on screens. By using a technological function designed to freeze a moment, Pyle actually produces the opposite effect, showing the ravages of time captured digitally. Pyle used a personal photograph which he saved over 256,000. To his amazement, very little of the photograph was recognizable, exposing the similarity between human memory and memory storage.
Pyle received his BA from Stanford and his MFA from Mills College. His work has been featured at YBCA, SFMOMA, Google Inc. among others. Pyle lives and works in Chicago.
MEL DAY and FRANK HAM
In this recent series of photographs and digital light boxes works-in-progress, Day incorporates large-scale scans of the inside spreads of old and sacred texts with projections of high fidelity computational fluid dynamics simulations of turbulence*. These relatively blank pages are printed on back-lit transparency paper—further modified with sparse drawings and notations—and lit from behind. The turbulent wake mixes with the quiescent surrounding flow, naturally forming larger and larger vortices. These small and large eddies continuously unfurl and transform over the large (relatively blank) facing pages in mesmerizing, fleeting, and seemingly never-ending mutations of form.
*Day is working in collaboration with Frank Ham from Cascade Technologies, a computational fluid dynamics company developing state of the art Large Eddy Simulation (LES) technology and the direct representation of large-scale, high fidelity turbulent motions for multiple platforms and applications. The complex turbulent flow is simulated in the wake of a bluff body by solving the three-dimensional Navier-Stokes equations.
Day received her MFA from UC Berkeley. Her work has been shown at ZERO1, YBCA and internationally (Toronto and Berlin). Day lives and works in Palo Alto.
The artistic duo Ligorano/Reese have been collaborating as a team on amazing projects since the mid 1980s. But Nora Ligorano and Marshall Reese’s latest project is a phenomenal, interactive self-portrait derived from Fitbit and psychological data. Self-quantification has become more and more ubiquitous in our culture, reflecting an increasing trend to visualize one’s activities aggregated, quantified and reflected in a mirror of metrics and personal technology. This growing preoccupation captured our imaginations – what kind of portrait could we create given one’s personal data; is a portrait of measure a 21st century artistic innovation? Entitled I•AM•I, the display is a fiber optic tapestry that is constantly changing, a woven data portrait displaying an abstract representation of our own activities and our responses to a self-reporting emotional survey. These activities are collected and generated by the FitBit, a data collection device or if unable to wear FitBit, |•AM•| contacts the “sitter” of the portrait three times per day, by SMS or email to find out how they’re feeling. It asks 11 questions about how they feel. They input this data using a mobile device. These responses are displayed as changing color fields.
Nora Ligorano and Marshall Reese are showing internationally for the past 30 years. They both live and work in New York.
Courtesy of Catharine Clark Gallery, San Francisco, CA
JD BELTRAN SCOTT MINNEMAN
JD Beltran is a conceptual artist, designer, filmmaker, writer, and educator. Her artistic practice blends the narrative and the abstract in exploring new forms of storytelling. She combines media as diverse as sculpture, film, video, photography, printmaking, painting, interactive software, installation, sound, typography, and literature in conceiving and inventing new ways of storytelling through unexpected means. Her inquiries explore what one might deem “physical semiotics” – how does a portrait of a subject rendered in sculpture create meaning or experience, and how might a photograph represent that subject differently, or even a film of the same subject? For over a decade, her award-winning work has investigated storytelling through the blending of traditional with novel materials, concepts, and technology. One of her primary concepts has been the portal. The “Magic Story Table” series, “Telephone Story,” the hidden “Secrets” project, and the Cinema Snowglobes all probe the concept and experience of looking through a window into another world – be it a foreign culture, a rapturous journey, a strange landscape, or even another person’s psychology. Her work has been screened and exhibited internationally, including at the Walker Art Center, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The M.H. de Young Museum, The Getty Center, The Kitchen in New York, the MIT Media Lab, Cité des Ondes Vidéo et Art Électronique in Montreal, ProArte in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Beltran lives and works in San Francisco.
Scott Minneman is an innovative technologist who invents, designs, engineers, fabricates, and exhibits novel physical interactive devices for public spaces. Blending art with technology, he creates innovative forms of immersive, interactive storytelling. After earning architecture and engineering degrees from MIT and a doctorate at Stanford, Minneman was on the research staff at the think-tank Xerox PARC for fifteen years, then cofounded Onomy Labs, a make-tank for interactives. He has been commissioned to create artworks and interactive projects all over the world, and his work and collaborations have garnered multiple national and international awards. He also is faculty in the Graduate Program in Design, and Coordinator of the Graduate Interaction Design and User Experience major at the California College of the Arts.
Minneman lives and works in San Francisco, CA
Casey Reas writes software to explore conditional systems as art. Through defining emergent networks and layered instructions, he has defined a unique area of visual experience that builds upon concrete art, conceptual art, experimental animation, and drawing. While dynamic, generative software remains his core medium, work in variable media including prints, objects, installations, and performances materialize from his visual systems. Gathering source material from newspapers, social media profiles, broadcast television and YouTube searches, Reas creates new real-time video works that manifest his personal confrontations with media. His software, prints, and installations have has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions at museums and galleries around the world. His work has been featured in over one hundred solo and group exhibitions at museums and galleries in the United States, Europe, and Asia. Reas’s work is in a range of private and public collections, including the Centre Georges Pompidou and the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Reas is a professor in the Department of Design Media Arts at UCLA and, with Ben Fry, the co-founder of Processing. He holds a masters degree from the MIT as well as a bachelors degree from the School of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning at the University of Cincinnati.
BETH HOWE and CLIVE McCARTHY
Beth Howe and Clive McCarthy are artists and collaborators whose work together pursues the possibilities that come from fusing algorithms and machine tooling with relief printing. Together they are bridging the creative work of coding with visual art practices to explore the questions: “Can we make code ‘material’?” and “What does the process used mean to the image that is made?” Using a CNC router as their tool of translation, Howe and McCarthy have developed code that prepares photographic images to be cut into relief surfaces. Their imagery is monumental yet commonplace, featuring bridges, overpasses, boulders and warehouses. Printed at a large scale, their work moves between abstract marks at close range and photographic images from a distance.
Laura Splan is an artist and lecturer whose work explores intersections of art, science, technology and craft. Her conceptually based projects examine the material manifestations of our cultural ambivalence towards the human body with a range of traditional and new media techniques. She often uses found objects and appropriated sources to explore socially constructed perceptions of order and disorder, normal and aberrant. Splan’s work has been included in numerous museum shows exhibitions around the country.
Her work has been exhibited internationally in Iceland, South Korea, England, Germany, Sweden, France, and beyond. She lives and works in Brooklyn.
Data collection on our lives is one of the obtrusive realities of the modern world but Laurie Frick, an artist with a tech background, sees taking ownership of that data as a positive way. To better understand our lives, Frick turns data into abstract portraiture. She began measuring her daily actions at Quantified Self, a website where people can self- track their experiences but she ultimately created and launched her own App, Frickbits. Using the collected data, it becomes the “mother board’ for the work. Lasercut rendering are actual and precise data using geolocation gather in a week, a day or a month, ultimately interpreting the quantitative data into visual representation. Overall, the images are abstract and yet they function as almost a text-book depiction of data. The combo presents an explosive marriage of number and image, of science and art. Frick’s work is included in major museum collections. She lives and works between Austin, TX and New York, NY
Frickbits App is a free App available at the App store: http://www.frickbits.com
Courtesy of Edward Cella Art + Architecture, Los Angeles, CA
Daniel Canogar uses discarded electronic materials in his photography, video, sculpture and installations, which construct portraits of a society and technological age. Finding inspiration in the archeology of new media, Canogar brings these dead objects back to life, revealing their contained secrets. Small Data is composed of a series of salvaged electronic devices (old cell phones, broken computer screens and printers, cracked hard discs, etc.) onto which an overhead projection is cast. The projections, precisely aimed at the devices, animate and seemingly give new life to the abandoned technologies. The artist works like an archeologist, pulling out the found items from piles of discarded materials in junkyards and recycling centers (veritable cemeteries for consumer electronics) and organizes them on shelves as if they were fragile remnants of a bygone era. Issues related to memory and identity are explored in this group of artworks. As communication tools with the outside world, and as repositories for so many of our thoughts, we acquire a very intimate relationship with the technological devices present in the artworks. Haunted by their past, the artist attempts to reveal memories, both personal and collective, that seem trapped within, mementos of a time when they had fully functional lives and served us well.Small Data explores the life and death of consumer electronics, and how when we discard our devices, we are throwing out a small part of ourselves.
Daniel Canogar received an M.A. from NYU and the International Center for Photography in 1990. His work as a visual artist focuses on photograpy, video, and installation art. He works and Lives in New York, NY
Courtesy of Bitforms Gallery New York, NY
Jim Campbell’s work is unique in that his media and message are inseparable. He uses technologies developed for information transfer and storage to explore human perception and memory. His recent work involves pixilated representations created with grids of L.E.D.s, which have such low perceived resolution as to defy comprehension. Exploring the line between representation and abstraction, Campbell plumbs the human ability to interpret information and “fill in the gaps” necessary to create a complete idea. His exploration of the distinction between the analogue world and its digital representation metaphorically parallels the difference between poetic understanding or “knowledge” versus the mathematics of “data.”
Campbell received degrees in Mathematics and Engineering from MIT in 1978. He transitioned from filmmaking to interactive video installations in the mid 1980s. His custom electronic sculptures and installations have made him a leading figure in the use of computer technology as an art form. Jim Campbell works and lives in San Francisco.
Courtesy of Hosfelt Gallery, San Francisco, CA
Jody Zellen is a Los Angeles based artist who works in many media simultaneously making interactive installations, mobile apps, net art, animations, drawings, paintings, photographs, public art, and artists’ books. She employs media-generated representations as raw material for aesthetic and social investigations. She also thinks about ways to integrate interactivity and technology into her works.
Recently she has been making iPhone/iPad apps. Her apps “Urban Rhythms,” Spine Sonnet,” “Art Swipe,” “4 Square, “Episodic,” “Time Jitters,” and “News Wheel” are available in the iTunes Store.
“News Wheel is a mobile app that coins random phrases from nine different news sources. The user can stop the wheel and modify the result for his own desire.
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