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Artistic Mediums II

Running from January 24, 2011 to February 25, 2011 in the Main Gallery

Curatorial Opportunity Program (COP) Selection

Curated by Andrew Sempere + Mary Lucking (Push Buttons First,  Artists include Sarah Attwood, Ranjit Bhatnagar, Paul Catanese, Ben Chang, Kim Collmer, Chris Harrison, Kelly Kirshtner, Jesse Kriss, Peggy Nelson, David Parker, Silvia Ruzanka, Andrew Sempere, Leslie Sharpe, and Dima Strakovsky

Artistic Mediums II is a collection of works exploring the idea of contemporary artists as mediums—individuals who channel ideas and express them through the manipulation of the invisible (electricity, ideas, perhaps even ghosts). Although nominally an “art and technology” show, not all of the work in the show actually involves electricity, sound, sensors, computers or visible technology. Some of the works are sculptural, some are photographs, some are video pieces, some invite audience participation. The connection between them is conceptual.

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Curatorial Statement

Technology has always brought us twin gifts of delight and fear: magical new powers inspire joy and exploration, but send us further into the unknown to shoulder risk and unease. Today our newfound skills are powerful and mysterious: Information flows great distances, objects move about under remote control or with a will of their own. Environments are saturated by invisible data; encoded intelligence swarms around us, carrying the story of our collective fate at the speed of light through walls and across the depths of space. Increasingly, as we move our lives online, large portions of our emotional universe have lost corporeal form. Meanwhile virtual spaces, robotic pets and digital agents seek to cross the uncanny valley and become part of our everyday experience. What does this mean? Does this communion with the invisible devalue the spiritual or encourage magical thinking? Does it represent the coming together of a whole or an increasing divide? Do ghosts exist as part of the electromagnetic spectrum? What of Demons or Angels?

The problem of invisible forces has long occupied human science and spirituality. Physics solved the question of action at a distance only to provide us with the stranger concept of quantum teleportation. The confusion and anxiety resulting from such pronouncements have led others to propose layman's corollaries: if the universe is strange, than the strange must be the universe! Thomas Edison, the son of Spiritualists, proposed a telephone to call the dead. Contemporary post humanists seek to convert their souls into bits, or at least to prove that the meat is simply a container. Paranormal researchers, in particular those interested in EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena), argue that the electromagnetic spectrum is oft manipulated by the dead to communicate with the living—that intelligences live invisibly in the ether is a foregone conclusion.

Whatever our collective destiny, artists working with technology serve a unique role as contemporary mediums. Our works, individual and unique, record for posterity the experience of living in a time marked by an uncertainty of our own making. We explore, take note and occasionally guide, pushing the limits of our world and repurposing the tools of objective inquiry in the hopes of finding more subjective truths. We've met the ghost in the machine, and found it's us.

Sarah Attwood, Fragment Reader

Kim Collmer, Stars of the Lid

Paul Catanese, Misplaced Reliquary

David Parker, Timeswitch Series No. 6: Derby Road

Leslie Sharpe, Ghosts for Cellphones: 10 Captures

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