"CODE and NOISE"
curated by Christine Duval
With generous support from the Thoma Foundation, the exhibition will travel to CURRENTS, Santa Fe.
“CODE and NOISE” is a multi-media exhibition that offers a fresh look at the ways in which contemporary artists create or leverage software in the production of their work. In the exhibition, viewers encounter works in mediums that span much of art history: from woodcut, textile, photograph and painting to super 8, video, and generative art. The exhibition addresses not simply the variety of mediums, but also highlights the varied approaches these artists take in yoking the language of computers to their art.
The advent of the computer is arguably one of the most culturally significant developments of the last century. In the early sixties, at a time when mainframe computers could only be found in large industrial or university laboratories, scientists and mathematicians like Manfred Mohr went on to adopt the role of artist and computer art was born. But computer-generated art was graphical in nature and tended to be solely structured around a techno-centric narrative. By the mid eighties, the appearance of off-the-shelf software and the widespread adoption of personal computers changed our relationship with technology forever. Today, software continues its inexorable spread into our daily lives with the “internet of things”—into our homes, appliances and cars. In the same manner, software has infiltrated many artistic practices—sometimes as a tool, but more often than not as an ever-evolving medium in itself.
Whether the artists in “Code and Noise” wrote their own code or leveraged existing ones, they all are preoccupied how the technology can mimic, transform, or alter the perception of the world we live in. The featured artists gather and study information from a wide range of sources—the TV, newspapers, photographs, fitbit, the internet, or scientific research documentation—and then seek to actively engage the viewer in the meaning of the work.
This exhibition seeks to present a wide sampling of traditional and non-traditional media in order to explore the extent to which software impacts the creative process. Viewers are often surprised to discover that a tapestry (Laura Splan), or a painting (Laurie Frick) is rooted in software as much as more evident with examples of generative and interactive works (Casey Reas and Simon Pyle). A number of hybrid media works investigate the language of visuality, as impacted by software (JD Beltran & Scott Minneman, Jim Campbell, and Ligorano Reese). Other works ventures into state-of-the art advances in super-computing that enable us to further study and explore the edges of our visual intelligence (Mel Day & Frank Ham, Clive McCarthy). Most artists now write their software to collect data for a specific purpose but occasionally the software is subject to glitches. Fascinated with the randomization of information when the software has lost its “mind” aka visual noise, artists are investigating a new visual vocabulary, a blur between media and message (James Lanahan).
“CODE and NOISE”
curated by Christine Duval
JD Beltran & Scott Minneman, Jim Campbell, Daniel Canogar, Mel Day & Frank Ham, Laurie Frick, James Lanahan, Ligorano Reese, Clive McCarthy,
Simon Pyle, Casey Reas, Laura Splan and Yang Yongliang.
June 10- 26, 2016
"Creativity drives both the digital world and the artistic world, so the synthesis of the aesthetic and technological that is on display in CODE and NOISE, an exhibition of eleven artists from around the world who employ computers to explore new visions of the world, makes for a fitting introduction to the fair, located as it is, just inside the entrance. Curated by Christine Duval (formerly of Limn Gallery in San Francisco, and previously Frumkin-Duval Gallery, and now an independent curator: duvalcontemporary.com), the beautifully installed show features work by JD Beltran & Scott Minneman, Mel Day & Frank Ham, Laurie Frick, James Lanahan, Ligorano/Reese, Clive McCarthy, Simon Pyle, teamLab and Yang Yongliang that touches on urgent contemporary concerns enumerated in the show’s press release— “the environment, memory, art history, data collection and surveillance” —with laser-cut drawings (Frick), video collages (Beltran & Minneman), dropped-computer digital photo randomizing (Lanahan), painting alogrithms (McCarthy), animated landscape imaging (Yong), the dialogue between printed and electronic media (Day & Ham) and digital reconnaissance of the art viewer (Pyle). Photographer James Lanahan, one of the inventors of the digital camera, declared that in today’s world, code underlies everything — or, at least everything as represented culturally. Noise is (as I understand it) random signals, or signals that we cannot decipher. The title CODE and NOISE thus aptly symbolizes the interplay between style and content, medium and message, in a rapidly evolving technosphere." DeWitt Cheng
Pyle is a photographer investigating the digital photographic technology. Using basic photographic programs and devices, Pyle reveals the gap between what exists in the world and what we see in images and on screens. By using a technological function designed to freeze a moment, Pyle actually produces the opposite effect, showing the ravages of time captured digitally. Pyle used a personal photograph which he saved over 256,000. To his amazement, very little of the photograph was recognizable, exposing the similarity between human memory and memory storage.
Pyle received his BA from Stanford and his MFA from Mills College. His work has been featured at YBCA, SFMOMA, Google Inc. among others. Pyle lives and works in Chicago.
Grandpa Back From War (Jpeg Decay)
In the Jpeg Decay series, Pyle uses the quotidian mechanism of memory storage: the jpeg image file. Jpegs remove visual data and introduce slight changes each time they are saved, just as memories shift even as we recall and reinforce them.
Video and prints available.
2015 Cameras, Thermal Printer, Screen, custom software and computer.
The more people look at this artwork, the more it grows. A screen draws attention while a surveillance camera captures the faces and eyes of the viewers. These images of faces print immediately on a thermal receipt printer, creating a physical chronological record. This stream of receipt paper accumulates over the period of the installation, becoming more of a spectacle the more that it is viewed.
Mel Day and Frank Ham
In this recent series of photographs and digital light boxes works-in-progress, Day incorporates large-scale scans of the inside spreads of old and sacred texts with projections of high fidelity computational fluid dynamics simulations of turbulence*. These relatively blank pages are printed on back-lit transparency paper—further modified with sparse drawings and notations—and lit from behind. The turbulent wake mixes with the quiescent surrounding flow, naturally forming larger and larger vortices. These small and large eddies continuously unfurl and transform over the large (relatively blank) facing pages in mesmerizing, fleeting, and seemingly never-ending mutations of form.
*Day is working in collaboration with Frank Ham from Cascade Technologies, a computational fluid dynamics company developing state of the art Large Eddy Simulation (LES) technology and the direct representation of large-scale, high fidelity turbulent motions for multiple platforms and applications. The complex turbulent flow is simulated in the wake of a bluff body by solving the three-dimensional Navier-Stokes equations.
Day received her MFA from UC Berkeley. Her work has been shown at ZERO1, YBCA and internationally (Toronto and Berlin). Day lives and works in Palo Alto.
The artistic duo Ligorano/Reese have been collaborating as a team on amazing projects since the mid 1980s. But Nora Ligorano and Marshall Reese’s latest project is a phenomenal, interactive self-portrait derived from Fitbit and psychological data. Self-quantification has become more and more ubiquitous in our culture, reflecting an increasing trend to visualize one’s activities aggregated, quantified and reflected in a mirror of metrics and personal technology. This growing preoccupation captured our imaginations - what kind of portrait could we create given one’s personal data; is a portrait of measure a 21st century artistic innovation? Entitled I•AM•I, the display is a fiber optic tapestry that is constantly changing, a woven data portrait displaying an abstract representation of our own activities and our responses to a self-reporting emotional survey. These activities are collected and generated by the FitBit, a data collection device or if unable to wear FitBit, |•AM•| contacts the “sitter” of the portrait three times per day, by SMS or email to find out how they’re feeling. It asks 11 questions about how they feel. They input this data using a mobile device. These responses are displayed as changing color fields.
Nora Ligorano and Marshall Reese are showing internationally for the past 30 years. They both live and work in New York.
Courtesy of Catharine Clark Gallery, San Francisco, CA
“Signal Noise” explores the limitations of technology and how the human mind processes and stores memory. The base for “Signal Noise” is a set of images taken during a family trip to Europe. After returning home, the laptop storing hundreds of RAW image files was accidently dropped and shattered. In a last ditch attempt, Lanahan decided to try and save the files using advanced recovery software. Over one month, he opened each file on the hard drive to try and identify the trip images. To his surprise, the computer’s CPU and operating system had taken the RAW image files and mashed them together in random and unanticipated ways. The new scramble of information led to fragmented collages, significant time shifts and tearing of images. In reflecting on his memory of the trip, Lanahan realized that the resulting layering of random moments were an honest representation of how he had begun to visually perceive the journey both as it evolved and in retrospect. This idea became a starting point to explore the limits of technology and one's mind to faithfully retain personal experience.
Media artist and technologist James Lanahan has been involved in the development of a number of pioneering digital media software and imaging architectures since the late 1980s.
Untitleds from The Signal Noise series, 2016, print, 17"x22", ed.10
JD Beltran and Scott Minneman
JD Beltran is a conceptual artist, designer, filmmaker, writer, and educator. Her artistic practice blends the narrative and the abstract in exploring new forms of storytelling. She combines media as diverse as sculpture, film, video, photography, printmaking, painting, interactive software, installation, sound, typography, and literature in conceiving and inventing new ways of storytelling through unexpected means. Her inquiries explore what one might deem “physical semiotics” – how does a portrait of a subject rendered in sculpture create meaning or experience, and how might a photograph represent that subject differently, or even a film of the same subject? For over a decade, her award-winning work has investigated storytelling through the blending of traditional with novel materials, concepts, and technology. One of her primary concepts has been the portal. The “Magic Story Table” series, “Telephone Story,” the hidden “Secrets” project, and the Cinema Snowglobes all probe the concept and experience of looking through a window into another world – be it a foreign culture, a rapturous journey, a strange landscape, or even another person’s psychology.
Her work has been screened and exhibited internationally, including at the Walker Art Center, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The M.H. de Young Museum, The Getty Center, The Kitchen in New York, the MIT Media Lab, Cité des Ondes Vidéo et Art Électronique in Montreal, ProArte in St. Petersburg, Russia. Beltran lives and works in San Francisco.
Scott Minneman is an innovative technologist who invents, designs, engineers, fabricates, and exhibits novel physical interactive devices for public spaces. Blending art with technology, he creates innovative forms of immersive, interactive storytelling. After earning architecture and engineering degrees from MIT and a doctorate at Stanford, Minneman was on the research staff at the think-tank Xerox PARC for fifteen years, then cofounded Onomy Labs, a make-tank for interactives. He has been commissioned to create artworks and interactive projects all over the world, and his work and collaborations have garnered multiple national and international awards. He also is faculty in the Graduate Program in Design, and Coordinator of the Graduate Interaction Design and User Experience major at the California College of the Arts. Minneman lives and works in San Francisco, CA.
"The Material Language series"
The Material Language Series is an innovative, groundbreaking suite of works that examines the language and meaning of the material of painting, photography, film, and video in relationship to each other. Each work begins with a single image, then combines the mediums of painting, photography, Super-8 film, and high-definition video to portray that single image in four different media, but within one composition.
* video: right from left: painting, photo, super 8mm, HD video
The Cinema Snowglobe, Minneman’s most recent invention (with partner JD Beltran), imbues the traditional tourist tchotchke with cutting-edge video technology for a delightful handheld experience. When shaken, Cinema Snowglobes create a compelling and involving experience, transporting viewers into a tiny world, like a personal crystal ball. In June 2014, the Cinema Snowglobes were awarded the International New Technological Art Award (NTAA), recognizing the top 2014 artworks in the world blending art and technology.
A series of globes “Fireworks”, “A Walk thru a Rose Garden”, “Golden Gate Bridge” will be on display.
Casey Reas writes software to explore conditional systems as art. Through defining emergent networks and layered instructions, he has defined a unique area of visual experience that builds upon concrete art, conceptual art, experimental animation, and drawing. While dynamic, generative software remains his core medium, work in variable media including prints, objects, installations, and performances materialize from his visual systems. Gathering source material from newspapers, social media profiles, broadcast television and YouTube searches, Reas creates new real-time video works that manifest his personal confrontations with media. His software, prints, and installations have has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions at museums and galleries around the world. His work has been featured in over one hundred solo and group exhibitions at museums and galleries in the United States, Europe, and Asia. Reas’s work is in a range of private and public collections, including the Centre Georges Pompidou and the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Reas is a professor in the Department of Design Media Arts at UCLA and, with Ben Fry, the co-founder of Processing. He holds a masters degree from the MIT as well as a bachelors degree from the School of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning at the University of Cincinnati.
Courtesy of Bitforms Gallery, New York, NY
The Today's Ideology series is a set of continuous, generative collages created from all of the editorial photos in a single day of The New York Times. The images are shuffled and then obliquely drawn, one at a time. Each work in the series is made on the day referenced in the title from the images from that day's paper. This work flattens the editorial hierarchy and reduces the significance of individual images to reshape the experience of reading the images.
Today's Ideology is influenced by the history of ideas that started with the development of perspective in the visual arts as a shift to an objective and mathematical way of representing space. Today's Ideology pushes contemporary photographs away from the pretense of objectivity and into a state where the viewer is more active in exploring and interpreting the images.
Today's Ideology, custom software, computer, 1080 x 1920 pixels, 2015
* Please note that the speed is accelerated for this presentation.
Engineer turned artist, Clive McCarthy writes its own code to recreate painterly version of his own photographs. Juggling three mediums in the process, McCarthy's final abstract renderings are mind-bending. McCarthy spends most of his time researching master painters’ techniques in order to reproduce a specific brush stroke as an example. Coding is McCarthy's brush and his “paint” is entirely synthetic. A digital version of a painting of a photograph is happening in slow motion however never to materialize as the program works in random sequence indefinitely.
McCarthy spent years as chief engineer at the semiconductor maker Altera before taking up art in 1997. He received his MFA in New Genres from the San Francisco Art Institue. His work has been shown at ICA, San Jose and in Canada. McCarthy lives and works in San Francisco.
Imagine a painting whose appearance shifts continuously over time, so much so that millions of years would have to pass before for your first glimpse of it returned. This may sound, to some, like a gimmick, but I assure you it's not. The San Francisco based engineer/artist Clive McCarthy has achieved it. McCarthy's grounding in art history is as solid as the algorithms that control his "paintings". His works, projected on small flat-panel screens, randomly recompose before your eyes. Each is derived from thousands of photographs that neither reveal their identity as such nor recall photorealism. They serially dissolve and reconstitute with periodic screen "wipes," as if Hans Hofmann had applied a lethargic version of the "Ken Burns effect" to post Impressionist paintings. Works like these show that the much-hyped fusion of science and art is finally starting to bear fruit.
David Roth, art critic, April 2014
Laura Splan is an artist and lecturer whose work explores intersections of art, science, technology and craft. Her conceptually based projects examine the material manifestations of our cultural ambivalence towards the human body with a range of traditional and new media techniques. She often uses found objects and appropriated sources to explore socially constructed perceptions of order and disorder, normal and aberrant.
Splan's work has been included in numerous museum shows exhibitions around the country. Her work has been exhibited internationally in Iceland, South Korea, England, Germany, Sweden, France, and beyond.
She lives and works in Brooklyn.
"Manifest", from the Embodies Objects series, 2015, laser sintered polyamide nylon,
8”H x 4.75”W x 4.75”D each
Manifest is a series of data-driven sculptural forms. Numerical data was collected from EMG (electromyogram) recordings of electrical activity produced by bodily movements. Neuromuscular activities associated with experiences of wonder (delight, confusion, disbelief) were performed as facial expressions and bodily movements (frowning, smiling, swallowing). An Arduino EMG device was used to record the electrical levels in muscles. Each activity produced unique data that was translated into a curve using a custom Processing program. The curve then became the profile for a bilaterally symmetrical model for 3D printing. The project examines the potential for objects to embody human experience and to materialize the intangible.
Tapestries, from the Embodies Objects series, 2016 computerized jacquard loom woven cotton,
approx. 70”H x 53”W each
The frenetic imagery in this series is formed from electromyography (EMG) data collected while performing tasks and expressions with my own body such as squinting, blinking and even unraveling a finished tapestry. The numerical EMG data was visualized in a custom Processing program that was written to repeat, rotate, and randomly colorize the EMG waveforms.
The series of digitally woven tapestries examines notions of labor and craft as they relate to material and technology. By combining hand and digital processes with traditional textiles and new media technologies, the series destabilizes and interrogates how each is categorized and valued. The narrative implications of these categories are mined for their potential to explore how technology, data, and cultural artifacts mediate our understanding of the human body.
Data collection on our lives is one of the obtrusive realities of the modern world but Laurie Frick, an artist with a tech background, sees taking ownership of that data as a positive way. To better understand our lives, Frick turns data into abstract portraiture. She began measuring her daily actions at Quantified Self, a website where people can self- track their experiences but she ultimately created and launched her own App, Frickbits. Using the collected data, it becomes the "mother board' for the work. Lasercut rendering are actual and precise data using geolocation gather in a week, a day or a month, ultimately interpreting the quantitative data into visual representation. Overall, the images are abstract and yet they function as almost a text-book depiction of data. The combo presents an explosive marriage of number and image, of science and art.
Frickbits App is a free App available at the App store:
Frick's work is included in major museum collections. She lives and works between Austin, TX and New York, NY
Courtesy of Edward Cella Art + Architecture, Los Angeles, CA
Daily Stress Inventory 2, etched wood, hand cut leather/linen, 2015, 36"x36"
Walk 52 in 16 panels, laser cut drawing/cotton, 22"x30", 2013 ed. 5
Yongliang is known for his sprawling photographic collages that depict the devastating effects of uncontrolled urbanization and industrialization. At a distance the works look like traditional Chinese painting and calligraphy but when viewed up close, the peaceful mountains and seascapes are found to be choked with buildings, factories, and machinery. Always seeking harmony between two contrary subjects, architecture and shan-shui are just some elemental components in Yongliang's whole creative concept. In his recent works, Yang Yongliang incorporates video elements within his already heavily composed photographic scrolls to capture that time-tested aesthetic. Traditional Chinese culture permeates his cutting-edge creative process, using new techniques and software to interpret older forms, like Chinese landscape paintings.
Yongliang's work is included in major museum collections around the world. He lives and works in Shanghai, China.
Daniel Canogar uses discarded electronic materials in his photography, video, sculpture and installations, which construct portraits of a society and technological age. Finding inspiration in the archeology of new media, Canogar brings these dead objects back to life, revealing their contained secrets. Small Data is composed of a series of salvaged electronic devices (old cell phones, broken computer screens and printers, cracked hard discs, etc.) onto which an overhead projection is cast. The projections, precisely aimed at the devices, animate and seemingly give new life to the abandoned technologies. The artist works like an archeologist, pulling out the found items from piles of discarded materials in junkyards and recycling centers (veritable cemeteries for consumer electronics) and organizes them on shelves as if they were fragile remnants of a bygone era. Issues related to memory and identity are explored in this group of artworks. As communication tools with the outside world, and as repositories for so many of our thoughts, we acquire a very intimate relationship with the technological devices present in the artworks. Haunted by their past, the artist attempts to reveal memories, both personal and collective, that seem trapped within, mementos of a time when they had fully functional lives and served us well.Small Data explores the life and death of consumer electronics, and how when we discard our devices, we are throwing out a small part of ourselves.
Daniel Canogar received an M.A. from NYU and the International Center for Photography in 1990. His work as a visual artist focuses on photograpy, video, and installation art. He works and Lives in New York, NY
Courtesy of Bitforms Gallery New York, NY
CIS, 2014, from the series Small Data, discarded scanner parts, wood, projector, multimedia player, 53 x 23.6 x 15 in / 134.6 x 60 x 38 cm 3 min 21 sec, loop Edition of 3
CMYK, 2014, from the series Small Data, discarded scanner parts, wood, projector, multimedia player, 53 x 23.6 x 15 in / 134.6 x 60 x 38 cm 3 min 21 sec, loop Edition of 3
Jim Campbell's work is unique in that his media and message are inseparable. He uses technologies developed for information transfer and storage to explore human perception and memory.
His recent work involves pixilated representations created with grids of L.E.D.s, which have such low perceived resolution as to defy comprehension. Exploring the line between representation and abstraction, Campbell plumbs the human ability to interpret information and "fill in the gaps" necessary to create a complete idea. His exploration of the distinction between the analogue world and its digital representation metaphorically parallels the difference between poetic understanding or "knowledge" versus the mathematics of "data."
Campbell received degrees in Mathematics and Engineering from MIT in 1978. He transitioned from filmmaking to interactive video installations in the mid 1980s. His custom electronic sculptures and installations have made him a leading figure in the use of computer technology as an art form. Jim Campbell works and lives in San Francisco.
Courtesy of Hosfelt Gallery, San Francisco, CA
Divide, 2015, 768 LED, custom electronics, plexi , steel, 22"x29"x3.5"
For this particular piece, Divide, rather than the diffusion screen, it is the LED panel that Campbell angles, tilting it forward from the top of a wallmounted cage toward the screen fixed before it, and bracketing it to the wall at the bottom. As a result, its projected image passes through all values from nearly flush to the screen at the top (minimum diffusion) to three inches removed at the bottom (maximum diffusion). The structural logic of the situation indicates that the image must vary along a continuum from discrete and pixelated at the top to continuous and blurred at the bottom: digital in appearance at top, analog at bottom.”