It's hard to know where to start when reviewing the newest show at the Mansion at Strathmore, "What's Up: New Technologies in Art." The works by the nine participating artists challenged the fundamentals of art itself, enticing, exciting, and befalling the viewer. New materials and mediums were encapsulated in the classical manor at the Strathmore, making the old home appear to come alive, clashing with the past and embracing the contemporary and near future. A novel dissecting this beautifully curated show by Harriet Lesser and analyzing the new direction of the art world could most certainly be written. I'm going to focus on four artists that crafted striking works using extremely different methods to address the changing landscape of art and technology.
Local Baltimore artist Chris Bathgate transformed his role to that of an inventor and engineer. Bathgate's intricate blueprints of industrial objects he created called into question how we look at line and shape. The incredibly intricate blueprints were very traditional in design but they depict sculptures that can be seen more as entities with an ambiguous utility that must be envisioned by the viewer. Bathgate's sculptures appear to be made by machines and our precisely pieced together. The resulting metal objects seem very stiff but when the observer reflects on the sculptures and blueprints as whole, the lines in the complex drawings indicate movement and display a sense of liveliness in the pieces.
The next artist, Joseph Corcoran, a glass blower manipulates his material so they takes on the likeness of other materials. In Genetic and Somewhere Else, glass is blown to look like metal as a way to challenge the sanctity of materials. Corcoran's work makes the viewer question what is the pure? The technique of glass blowing creates a very organic warped reality. Corcoran attempts to transform rather than manipulate the glass, perhaps as a statement addressing the creation of new materials.
Scott Draves is a software artist and his work Electric Sheep is visually extraordinary and rather daunting. Electric Sheep (see featured image) is "a collective intelligence consisting of 450,000 computers and people that uses mathematics and genetic algorithms to create an infinite abstract animation." After printing the description of the piece there may be nothing more to say. I can best describe my feelings while in the work as contemplative and calm. The endless swirls of colors, lights, and shapes floating around you almost makes you feel as if you are underwater while simultaneously being conscious in a dream. Scott Draves is certainly a pioneering artist in a variety of fields including digital, modern and software art.
The last artist the reader is to explore also uses modern technologies to examine the past and the future. In Kiss by New York performer and artist, R. Luke Dubois, the artist takes 50 iconic Hollywood kisses and regenerates them, essentially vectorizing them so all we see our outlines of the figures and lines of color connecting all the shapes in the video. The piece was chilly and the music was rather haunting because it sounded like a grinding infestation of insects. The piece seemed to depict the dark side of love and romance, creating a sense of uneasiness. The visual quality of the work, while technically falling to the category of videography was very reminiscent of pop art.
"What's Up: New technologies in Art" is an incredible and revolutionary show that should not be missed. The exhibition explores the very exciting direction that art is heading in and will elicit a passionate response from the viewer. For full details on the show visit the Strathmore. Also don't miss the launching of the Laser At the Mansion, an additional part of this exhibition that will be running on select evenings from February 12th to March 2nd.
Special Thanks to Kayleigh Bryant, Mansion Programming Coordinator
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