Tuesday, July 20, 2010
by Diane Calder
"Invention is not the product of logical thought."--Albert Einstein"Organized perception is what art is all about."--Roy Lichtenstein (Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery, Scripps College, East Los Angeles County) Since ancient times, when the Greek goddess Techne served as the inspiration for science as well as for art, individuals willing to look at the bigger picture have acknowledged some degree of mutuality in these seemingly disparate fields. The Greek verb, tikein (to create), and the word "technique" are both derivations of Techne's name. As techniques are employed to make mechanical instruments such as telescopes and microscopes more sophisticated, our range of vision into worlds previously unimagined is extended, opening opportunities for creative artists and scientists to interact.
These sorts of interactions and the focus of In the Minds Sky: Intersections of Art and Science. Curator Mary Davis MacNaughton’s discerning catalogue essay investigates the fusing of inspiration and intellect that probes the fundamental structure of nature, alters views of space and time and formulates new visions of the world. The exhibition presents the work of six artists who take their points of departure from scientific phenomena at extreme scales--from the cosmic to the sub-atomic.The surfaces of Nancy Macko's fourteen-foot long birchwood panels give birth to iridescent layers of meaning in Quintessence: New Constellations. Macko integrates her considerable skills as a painter, digital and graphic artist, as well as interpreter of feminist figuration into the creation of new galaxies filled with life giving, memory-bearing imagery. Constellations of winged beings light the way to free floating forms that suggest ancient ladder climbers searching out honeycombs, or tethered astronauts inhabiting Macko's vision of an egalitarian future.Carol Saindon marks the entry to her dark-walled installation with the phrase, "Because Distance is Impossible to Perceive." Velvety charcoal and white chalk drawings of clusters of stars, inspired by satellite photographs, float on the black walls, suggesting a complexity of time and space. Saindon's vehicle for bridging ancient cultures and distant galaxies is a transparent glass boat projecting the sounds and undulating images of distant oceans as it rides a spiraling swirl of glistening fragmented glass.
Claire Browne's modestly scaled, intuitive pencil drawings on canvas composed of patterns of circles, conjure images of expanding particles that could be cells or constellations. In direct opposition to Browne's subjective, repetitive surfaces are the large scale oil images painted by British artist Mark Francis. These masterfully rendered works pair groupings of dull surfaced black dots that hover above painterly blurred strokes, dancing across sensuously alluring surfaces. The dots resemble viruses, keys to life and death. They allude to the boundaries crossed by Francis in his search for similarities between viral decoding and the modernist grid.The layered stains that float through Dennis Ashbaugh's two huge, color-drenched canvases are inspired by the most cardinal of human identifiers, DNA sequencing. Ashbaugh's gene sequence portraits reflect his fascination with a culture obsessed with science and technology. The less structured of the two works, Montecito Micropore, discloses a red field whose cracked surfaces contain iron filings, holding within it a suggestion of the possibilities and threats inherent in genome experimentation.Recent advances position brain research on the brink of mind boggling revelations. This fact inspired an explorative collaboration between Susan Rankaitis and Dr. David Somers. Rankaitis, an esteemed artist/photographer who deftly seeds fragments of scientific imagery and codes throughout her layered, collage-like surfaces has found her reverse equivalent in Somers, a neuroscientist who studies brain processes with MRI imaging. Together they have fabricated a prototype for a learning lab inside curved grey walls fourteen feet in diameter. They trust the viewer to enter this waiting room and collaborate in the construction of meanings from the hundreds of 5 by 7 inch images that Rankaitis and Somers have fabricated. Manipulated MRI images inform schemes of brain mapping; suggested correlations between various parts of the body and mind mix with images influenced by mass media. Art and science indeed intersect.
More on art and and neuroscience colliding:
"I’ve developed a hypothesis — I think beauty or the sense of great comfort from art is related to the viewer’s early experience and the desire to recover something recognizable. Not at the literal or narrative level of memory, but where pattern operates like music, and provides a rhythm that feels like a familiar recollection at the level just below consciousness. I think science will find attraction and desire are based on brain fluency, which is wired from the cumulative stimulus of individual life experience. By extension, I believe each of us has something like a ‘genome of sensory preference’, which could be mapped. And eventually it’s possible a predictive model of aesthetics could be built for each of us." Laurie Frick
The bloggesphere connecting like firing neurons transferring information in the brain... more about Laurie Frick here
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
This summer the Sande Webster Gallery presents Divergence: Five Views on Photography. This exhibitionexplores diverse approches to the photographic medium. As the field continually evolves to incorporate digital technologies, artists are finding freedom from traditional processes and new creative opportunities for personaland aesthetic expression. This contemporary photography exhibition begins a dialog about the current and future state of the printed photographic image. Divergence showcases the work of Krantz, Love, Mitchell, Stein and Tarver.Gregg Krantz is a Philadelphia artist with a graphic sensibility expressed through a love of printmaking,photography and design.
Krantz’s recent photographic works are abstract narratives that document surfaces and patterns indicative of particular places. His close-up, detailed photographs capture the texture, color and quality of light in his West Philadelphia neighborhood as well as his travels abroad. Through subject matter and rhythmic phrasing in each series, Krantz heightens one’s perception of the invisible dimension of time. His photographs ofurban facades, geometric forms and painted surfaces are transformed into a personal vocabulary that are arrangedin series, like musical compositions, in varying qualities of tone and harmony.
Arlene Love is an accomplished figurative sculptor turned street photographer. She has been working on anongoing photographic project called Walking Distance over the past few years. She doesn’t search for exotic newplaces and people to photograph. Her camera goes with her as she goes about her life within walking distanceof her home. The people on the streets of Philadelphia are as interesting to her now as were those in Mexicowhere she lived for many years. Nothing is more interesting to Arlene Love than simply watching people – exceptphotographing them when they are blissfully unaware of her presence. Love has exhibited her work both nationally and internationally, and is in the collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.
Mitchell rejects the assumption that photography is about representation. Pure abstraction and the process ofimage making are the subject of his work. His photographs have more in common with the sensory experiencesassociated with color field paintings and ambient sound than they do with the tradition of photography. Images areshot with the purest of intuition and from a perspective largely influenced by aura occurrences associated withTemporal Lobe Epilepsy. Auras can produce heightened abstract emotions, affecting the visual field. Concepts and meanings in words that might invigorate the imagination, or perhaps for the intellect alone are explored in his titles, which enhance the imagery. While the experience with auras, is not always evident in the result, it is irrefutably connected in the process of creation.
Phil Stein creates dimensional photographic collages of the urban landscape. He finds inspiration in the random visual fragmentation that occasionally occurs in live streams and video downloads. The Streets series explores various themes of image reconstruction based on these common algorithmic accidents. Digital processes are used with a variety of fine papers to create this body of photo-based work. The resulting artwork is a combination of photograph, collage and sculpture. The world through Stein’s digital lens is made up of bits of visual information. He creates a new way of seeing the world around us, defining what it means to be an artist in the digital age.
Ron Tarver began his recent series of ethereal black and white flower portraits as a journey through his ownbackyard. Beginning the first day of the season, Tarver set out to document the spring flowers of the Northeast,beginning with crocuses then on to the next blooms, such as magnolia and tulips. Tarver captures the beauty ofnature in such intimate detail. There is a sensuality to these images that is revealed in the graceful curves of eachpetal. Tarver is a master at his craft and presents sumptuous images that remind us how incredible our naturalworld truly is. Tarver, a 2001 Pew Fellow, is included in the collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Oklahoma Museum of History and the National Museum of American Art of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC.