New art gallery explores post digitalism

By Kristen Solis
Correspondent

The College celebrated the opening of a new art exhibit inside the Art and Interactive Multimedia Building art gallery on Wednesday, March 9, entitled, “Image Tech: Making Pictures in a Post Digital Age.”

The public was treated to the new artwork as well as an artist panel featuring Trudy Benson and Lucas Blalock, whose work is in the gallery.

Mauro Zamora, assistant professor of art at the College, served as exhibition curator. Zamora opened the artist panel with his vision behind the exhibition.

He quoted a new media artist, Theo-Mass Lexileictous, in the exhibit program, saying, “The description of our current age is … #postdigitalism, where artists are extracting the digital into the physical world.”

In 2007, what changed for Zamora was buying an Inkjet Printer.

“It was a long journey for me, with my practice,” Zamora went on to write in the exhibit program. “If the screen can be the conceptual nexus of today’s art making, then the output device, the printer, is one of the screen’s destination.

All of the artists in the gallery explore this concept of the digital affecting how they make their art and how people view it.

Post-digitalism is breaking down barriers between what defines a painting, a photograph or a print. The works installed in the gallery illuminate how the collapse of distinct categories gives freedom to artists to not be restricted to just one media or just one type of art.

Zamora remarked during the panel how the digital changes the way we think of the structure of the image.

Walking into the gallery, on the right wall hangs an enormous red painting by Benson, titled “Red Giant,” displaying robust scribbles created using acrylics, spray paint and oil paint on canvas.

“The scale is impressive and I’m really drawn to the layers,” said Matthew Pembleton, a College alumnus and the gallery’s coordinator.

Benson, who started off as a painter focusing on representational figures, now creates abstract paintings inspired by early versions of Windows Paint and Photoshop after she allowed herself to experiment.

Her work is the perfect example of how the categories of digital and physical art are no longer separate.

“You really can’t separate paintings from the digital world.” Benson said. “Most people view paintings on a computer screen.”

Blalock is another artist featured in the gallery who uses Photoshop features, such as the cloning tool, digital erasing and masking, to manipulate photographs into whimsical pieces of art.

Blalock wants to move beyond just “light on paper,” referring to the darkroom process of photography. His work explores the middle ground between what is a photograph and what is a painting.

“Painting is an activity of making an object,” Blalock said. “Photography is an attempt to relate to something in the world.”

Another piece in the gallery is a large inkjet print of a Cheetos Bag with acrylic flowers painted over it, similar to graffiti, by artist Tom Holmes.

“From afar, it looks like it’s suspended (in the) air, but then up close, it’s mounted on the wall,” senior fine arts major Jessica Hargwood said. “I guess it’s just the way the light hits it, since it’s printed on aluminum, but it’s a really cool effect.”

The image that sums up the latest gallery at the College is a large print by artist Wolfgang Tillman. It is an image of a messy desk, two large computer screens, a Macbook and a beer, titled “Studio Still Life.” It is an obvious picture of where Tillman works. It also pays homage and pokes a bit of fun at the age old artist practice of creating still lifes, yet beautifully illustrates the theme of this exhibit.

“The main concerns of these works seems to be the actual image and their meaning — the potential network, the relevance to culture and connection to image history — not a specific connection to a painting or photography nor to representation or abstraction,” Zamora wrote in the exhibit program. “These artist work in a completely fluid manner, moving between digital space, physical space and even the cultural space with no barriers or self-imposed restrictions.”