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June 7, 2001 to July 29, 2001

Digital Deluxe

The Philadelphia Art Alliance presents Digital Deluxe, a sampling of contemporary art-sculpture, photography, drawing, video, film, printmaking, installation, and sound ­that has been either enhanced with or produced by digital technologies. Participating artists include: Taryn FitzGerald; Judy Gelles; Richard Harrod; Colin Ives; Aaron Levy and Andrew Zitcer; Aaron Levy and Diana Prescott; Jonathan Lewis; Nancy Lewis; Kathy Marmor; Annu P. Matthew; Nancy Miller; Elieen Neff; and Teri Rueb.

Sometimes referred to by the umbrella term "new media," the works in this exhibition have been either entirely created with or enhanced by the use of a computer, and, in several cases, take the computer itself — or technology more broadly speaking — as subject. The word "practice" should be stressed, as most of the works in this exhibition are not precious, unique objects — collector’s items -- but ephemeral, technology-dependent, and infinitely reproducible (at least in theory). The very appearance of digital art is continually changing as technological refinements and innovations drive changes in new media practices.

Sound and interactivity are also major components of the works included in Digital Deluxe. Ambient music, recorded "natural" sound, manipulated sound, noise, and voice augment, complete, and in one case, substitute for the visual image. Furthermore, rather than producing traditional objects for contemplation, certain artists in this exhibition affect an aesthetic experience through the deliberate engagement of the viewer/visitor while others create installations, some involving projections, that act as environments for contemplation and de-emphasize object-orientation.

Annu Palakunnathur Matthew: Mrityudand

Annu Palakunnathu Matthew focuses on how commercial films in her homeland of India reflect and reinforce stereotyped gender roles in Indian culture. "Bollywood" refers to the name given to the largest film industry in the world, concentrated in Bombay. Images from real cinema posters are combined and altered to create works that, in the artist’s words, "explore issues such as the position of women in Indian society, the dowry system, arranged marriages, discrimination based on skin color, the stigma of pre-marital relationships and inter-racial relationships." Matthew uses a software program that allows her to create unusually large images that mimic the size of movie posters.

Matthew received her MFA in photography from the University of Delaware in 1997 and is currently assistant professor of art at the University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI. She has been awarded residencies, grants, and fellowships, from: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, VT (2000); Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (2001); Visual Studies Workshop; New York State Council for the Arts (2000); and University of Rhode Island (1999); among others. Matthew’s work has been published in Exposure, LensWork, Nueva Luz, Photographers International, Photo Metro and The Photo Review.

Nancy Miller: Gush and Bore

Nancy Miller’s computer-generated digital prints could be characterized as satirical pastiches of a broad range of subjects: iconography from art history, imagery from popular culture and advertising, and portraits of political leaders and American celebrities. Using Photoshop software, Miller prints her images in a horizontal format, echoing the fantastic panoramic landscapes framed by architectural facades she depicts in her prints. Works such as "Gush and Bore or Chaos in Florida," or "The American Couch Potato" comment wryly upon recent political events and American social mores.

Miller, who lives in New York City, studied art at Bennet College and the Maryland Institute College of Art, completing her studies in 1949. Formerly a painter, Miller became known for her Plexiglas and paper sculptures in the 1970s and 1980s. Ten years ago, Miller turned to digital production. She has exhibited extensively in the United States and Europe since 1965 and is included in over a thousand public and private collections around the world.

Taryn FitzGerald: Under My Skin Still

Taryn FitzGerald’s short videos explore the nature of repression and its connection to compulsive behavior in the psyche. Over the Rainbow (2001; 11 min.) is considered by Fitzgerald to be the foundation for all three of the videos in this exhibition. Based on the film The Wizard of Oz, the film explores personal perception and as the artist describes "the place of the imagination in creating reality". In the video In Your Quiet Little Way (1996; 10 min.) FitzGerald evokes the metaphor of the empty home to explore memories from her childhood of powerlessness, alienation, and confinement. Body image, perception, and self-destruction are the underlying issues in Under My Skin (1999, 7:15 min.) as FitzGerald explores her own struggle with a long-time eating disorder. Each video is shot in 8mm formats and then digitized from analog to allow FitzGerald to edit and manipulate the imagery through various computer programs.

FitzGerald, who lives in Brooklyn, NY, studied at the L’Ecole Supérieure d’Art Visuel in Geneva, Switzerland and received her MFA from the School of Visual Arts, New York, NY. A few of her recent awards include: Best Experimental Work, US Super 8/ 8 mm Film & Video Festival (2000); Winner, 6th National Showcase Exhibition, The Alternative Museum, New York, NY; and the Paula Rhodes Memorial Award, School of Visual Arts, New York, NY (1996). FitzGerald currently teaches at Future Media Concepts, New York, NY.

Judy Gelles: Invented Landscape

Judy Gelles combines ideas of place and memory in her series of digital photographs called Invented Landscapes. Digitally manipulated photographs of the disparate landscapes of the Maine woods and the Atlantic coast of Florida are layered inside intimately-sized lightboxes. Gelles illustrates how memories of her family’s seasonal homes of Maine and Florida have fused into one narrative over the course of time and distance.

Gelles received her MFA in photography from the Rhode Island School of Design and currently teaches at the University of the Arts, Philadelphia, and the International Center of Photography, New York, NY. Gelles was recently awarded an Artists as Catalyst Mid-Atlantic Foundation Grant, (2001), the Independence Foundation Fellowship in the Arts (2000), and the Leeway Foundation Window of Opportunity Award, Philadelphia (1999), among many others.

Richard Harrod: Slapartment

Richard Harrod investigates how both environment and technology have evolved to the point of becoming what he calls a "solipsistic prison." In the projected digital video-loop, Slapartment, the "character" of a yellow square incessantly scans a run-down room of an apartment for signs of habitation. A fragment of the sound track to The Night of the Living Dead offers an ominous backdrop to the square’s obsessive swirling search of the room. B-Motion, an interactive computer database and live website, is a work in progress that addresses the same principle of self and environment imprisoned by technology. Viewers are asked to enter into the database their coordinates within the city of Philadelphia during different times of the day. Each participant is represented by a small red dot on the computer screen. The data represents the movements of the participants, which take on a discernable pattern on the computer screen. Viewers are made aware of their own presence within the larger context of the city. As Harrod states, B Motion ultimately illustrates how "our mission, our drama, our awareness of the self in a larger environment can only backfire."

Harrod received his M.F.A. in sculpture from Tyler School of Art, Temple University, Philadelphia. He was the director in 1999-2000 of Blohard Gallery, Philadelphia, and co-curated Mental Wilderness at the Gale Gates Gallery, Brooklyn, NY (2000). Harrod was awarded the Mildred Boucher Award (1999), a Pew Fellowship in the Arts, Philadelphia (1997), and the Presidential Prize at Beaver College, Glenside, PA (1996). Harrod lives in Queens, NY.

Colin Ives: For Man with a Hammer

In For a Man with a Hammer, Colin Ives examines the ways in which the dichotomy of mind and body has manifested itself in the digital age. A small video screen displaying an animated image is located behind a viewfinder lens placed within the head of an oversized hammer. The hammer sculpture stands upright in a bucket full of wax nails. Sounds of hammering and heartbeats emanate from the base of the pedestal like ghostly echoes. The sounds and the unusable wax nails refer to the tool’s previous use. In transforming the hammer from a tool symbolizing physical labor into an artifact of history, Ives observes that "these antiquarian tools, which once occupied us, have become a kind of phantom limb: we carry with us the heft, the trace, and shape of an appendage that is no longer there."

Ives received his MFA in multimedia and video art from the University of Iowa, Iowa City, and is currently an assistant professor of Imaging and Digital Arts at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, MD. His digital installations and web projects have appeared in a number of venues, including: For the Birds, Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA (2001); Biennial 2000, Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington DE; Artscape 2000 minus 1, Festival site at Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD (1999); andTool as Art: The Hechinger Collection, The National Building Museum, Washington, D.C. (1999).

Aaron Levy and Andrew Zitcer: ",aural.2"

Aaron Levy and Andrew Zitcer conceived of the sound installation ".aural", which uses the voice of avant-garde composer and performer John Cage as the basis for sound files stored on two computer hard drives. Levy and Zitcer created bar codes that, when scanned by the visitor/viewer, activate a total of 130 different, manipulated sound files excerpted from a CD of Cage reading from his journals. The first installation of this project took place at the Kelly Writer’s House at the University of Pennsylvania. In the Art Alliance's installation, ".aural.2," the bar codes are placed above the keyboard of a piano in the position of sheet music, allowing visitors two possible levels of interaction. Two scanners allow different sound files to play simultaneously, creating a sound environment. As the sound files are activated by the visitor, a randomly selected passage of Cage speaking is also activated on nearby computer screens, which flow at the speed and cadence of the active sound file.

Aaron Levy and Diana Prescott: caul. casual. stall.

Aaron Levy collaborated with Diana Prescott on three short digital films, caul. causal. stall, presented on a television monitor. Resembling the graininess of super 8 film, short outtakes of everyday activities in two of the films, one of traffic on a highway, the other of a dog chasing its tail, are subtly manipulated and repeated for the duration of the film. The accompanying sound tracks are composed from recorded and edited language. In the third film, .stall, a tiny digital camera records a few seconds of a dye-injected heart pumping filmed from outside the body; this footage was transferred to CD-ROM, given to the patient and then edited by the artists. An accompanying sound track of a heart beat overlaid with digitally manipulated sounds, one of which resembles an EKG monitor of a "flatline," underscores the disjuncture between image and language.

Aaron Levy is a Philadelphia-based artist and the founding curator of SLOUGHT Networks ( SLOUGHT is comprised of a series of local and web-based arts initiatives. These include lecture series, curated events, publications, and concerts. Recently, Levy was 1999-2000 Resident Junior Fellow at the Kelly Writer’s House, University of Pennsylvania. Levy's work spans photography, prose poetry, and the digital arts. Recent exhibitions include "sad gratitude" (Schaffner Gallery, New York), "artsEdge" (Faculty Architecture Exhibit, University of Pennsylvania), and "First Blood" (Ericson Gallery, Philadelphia, June 2001).

Andrew Zitcer is an artist and community arts activist based in West Philadelphia. His work combines a background in music and poetry with an interest in emerging techniques in digital audio. Zitcer is a founder and director of the Foundation Community Arts Initiative, a collaborative arts program and performance series. Zitcer was the 2000-2001 Junior Fellow at the Kelly Writer's House, University of Pennsylvania.

Diana Prescott is the lead singer/bassist for Philadelphia-based band Eltro. Eltro received their first critical acclaim with the 1998 release of their album Information Changer on Philadelphia’s Miner Street label. In 2001, Absolutely Kosher Records oversaw the release of Eltro's second LP, Velodrome. Diana received a MFA in painting from the Moore College of Art and Design. Her current work encompasses video art and experimental sound.

Jonathan Lewis: See Candy

Jonathan Lewis presents two series of prints based on the digital manipulation of found objects. In See Candy, Lewis photographs and digitally scans various types of candy wrappers. The colors are pulled from the original scan and pushed into various bands stretched to the point of complete abstraction. Postcards of famous paintings are the basis for a second series of prints called Heavenly Bodies. A small pixelated-portion of the scanned image is enlarged to encompass the entire area of the final Iris print. Each series follows a process of moving from figuration to abstraction, reaching what Lewis considers to be the "atomic essence" of the visual image.

Lewis, who lives in Philadelphia, received his BA in Art History at Robinson College, Cambridge University, Cambridge, England and a certificate in Professional Photographic Practice at the London College of Printing. He was recently chosen to exhibit in the 2001 Challenge Exhibition at Fleisher Art Memorial, Philadelphia, and has exhibited in New Prints 2001 at the International Print Center, New York, NY. Lewis is currently the Iris printmaker at the Silicon Gallery, Philadelphia.

Nancy Lewis: "The Tattoo Studies"  

Nancy Lewis’s computer drawings from her series called "the tattoo studies" are based on a personal language of symbols such as diamonds, flames, animals, and rainbows. Lewis uses the same approach in her digital works as in her paintings. She attempts to maintain a "hand-drawn" look through rough, bit-mapped edges and unmodulated colors simply drawn with a mouse in Appleworks software. Lewis considers these drawings to be designs for a line of temporary tattoos she would like to market someday.

Lewis received her BA from San Francisco State University and her MFA from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. She is the recipient of a Window of Opportunity Award from the Leeway Foundation, Philadelphia (1999) and a Visual Arts Fellowship for Painting from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (2000). Lewis is currently a member of Vox Populi and lives in Philadelphia.

Kathy Marmor: Dynamics of Forgetting: Screen Memories

Kathy Marmor investigates the correlation between the body, language, and the computer screen in one of a series of projects called "The Dynamics of Forgetting." Digitally manipulated images of the artist’s body are overlaid with "screen shots" from the computer to examine how the computer screen behaves like language and the unconscious. Marmor attempts to recreate Lacan’s Objet petit (the object of desire), She explores how the image-as-screen conceals the ways in which language constructs the female body as fetish object. Digitally enhanced images taken from video stills and screen shots are sandwiched in Plexiglas plates and suspended throughout the gallery. Other images of the fragmented body are projected onto those suspended Plexiglas plates and reflect on the gallery walls to create a total environment.

Marmor received her MFA in Imaging and Digital Arts at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, MD and is currently assistant professor of art at the University of Vermont, Burlington, VT. In 1999, Marmor received a research grant from the University of Vermont. During the summer Marmor lives in Baltimore.

Eileen Neff: Figure/Ground

In Figure/Ground, Eileen Neff manipulates her photographs digitally to blur the distinctions between interior and exterior. Using Photoshop, Neff layers photographs of a single cloud and interior with multiple doorways, confounding viewers’ expectations of the objectivity of the photographic image. The title Figure/Ground playfully suggests that the cloud, normally an intangible object, in its vertical orientation is "figure" and in its horizontal orientation is "ground." Figure/Ground is related to a recent series by Neff that explores the distinctions of stillness/motion, the perceptible/ intangible, and interior/exterior to question our conventional associations of objects and the "truth value" of photography itself.

Neff received her MFA in photography from the Tyler School of Art, Temple University, Philadelphia. She has received numerous fellowships and awards from: The Rosenbach Museum and Library, Philadelphia (2000); The Leeway Foundation (1996); Pew Fellowship in the Arts (1993-94); Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia (1992); La Napoule Art Foundation, Napoule, France (1991); and National Endowment for the Arts, Washington, D.C. (1988-1990). Neff currently teaches painting and media arts at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and divides her time between Philadelphia and New York City.

Teri Rueb: Cairn

In her digital sculptures, Teri Rueb references the technical structure of the computer as a translation device from binary code to narratives used by the average person. In Cairn, three sets of stacked glass sheets serve as a metaphor for the strata of the computer. In each Cairn Rueb clarifies the otherwise opaque functions of the computer, from binary code ("on" and "off"), to programming languages and compilers, to natural language and text as seen on the screen. Sound samples from nature are activated by the movement of the viewer around one Cairn, underscoring the ability of the computer to respond to and translate our motions. Each sculpture also metaphorically represents a cairn, a man-made stone structure found in nature and used as both a trail marker and a pagan funerary memorial. As Reub states, the Cairn series "reflects on the human inclination to seek our own image in the machine."

Rueb received a MA in interactive telecommunications from the Tisch School of the Arts, New York University and is assistant professor of imaging, digital art, and experimental interfaces at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, MD. In additional to national and international group exhibitions, Rueb has produced several large-scale site-specific installations including: TRACE: an environmental sound installation, with the support of The Banff Centre for the Arts at Yoho National Park, Alberta, Canada (1999); and OPEN CITY: public space and civic identity, for the Commission for Site-Projects DC, Washington, D.C. (1999). Rueb has been most active as a lecturer at conferences and symposia on sound and art in Germany and England.

Stephanie Knopp: "Menagerie"

Stephanie Knopp received her MFA in graphic design from Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA and currently is the principal owner of Stepahnie Knopp Designs in Philadelphia. She is also a professor of Graphic Design at the Tyler School of Art at Temple University, Philadelphia.

Knopp's recent exhibitions include: Art for Artist's Sake, Philadelphia Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, Philadelphia (2000); University and College Designers, Minneapolis, MN (1995); Art Directors Club of Philadelphia (1994); Union of Artists and Writers of Cuba, Havana, Cuba (1988); and 11th Annual Poster Biennale, Warsaw, Poland (1986), among other venues. Knopp describes Menagerie, her photographic series of miniature golf courses on view at the PAA:

Tags: installation, mixed media