By Jasmine Kuylenstierna
“The Void and the Cloud,” a group virtual exhibition by SciArt Center, explores the many aspects of being and non-being, and through this exploration dissolves common black and white-type constraints often struck between the analog and digital, everything and nothing, disconnected and hyperconnected, hinting at the infinite space of overlap between.
Taking a broad view, each artwork in this exhibit seems to branch out to something beyond itself through technology, philosophy, and fantasy. And many artworks possess concrete connections to various scientific endeavors. Brenda Perry’s Relational Sustainability is a soothing and calm interactive environment which invites the audience to tweet into the virtual cloud, causing a 'real' cloud rain. Daniel Hill’s interference patterns paintings spark associations of illustrations of soundwaves and the cosmic rays captured in cloud chambers. Ed Grant’s pieces hit my weak spot for photography created with manipulated glitch art and trashed pixels. The images he creates are eerie, on the edge of something dark, post-digi-apocalyptic and imposing, yet so colorfully detailed and fantastical.
Something astronomically personal is captured by Ekaterina Smirnova in her close, large-scale, and emotional renditions of the comet 67P. The public availability of NASA’s data continues to inspire such vivid portrayals of comets, and the like – things normally only cold, and distant.
NASA data has also been used to inspire Samuel Pellman & Miranda Raimondi in their work NCG 1999. Viewing this film is like trying to wake up, or capture a slowly dissappearing dream; the edges constantly transform and push your sensations around. The corners are sometimes sharp and sometimes very vague, interchangeably, as if reflected through a rotating prism in which light and color play games beyond our visual spectra. In this way, the piece references false color imaging and other ways of processing data through visual interpretation, a method one might argue is fairly artistic as utilized for various scientific communications, to aid, for example, in the general public understanding of what space consists of beyond what we can actually see. Nebulae are ever transforming places in the cosmos. They are temporary like human life but on a much grander scale, which this short piece summarizes well, seemingly focused on the very small details that make up an imposing, expanding whole, entangled with our memories across the light years.
There are also plenty of other, equally interesting themes present in this exhibition including mysticism, symbolism, and dreams. April Tracey’s series – from a 12 piece body of work entitled ”Template Series – Finding Spirit in the Cloud” – and those by Jonathan Feldschuh bring to mind Hilma af Klint’s symbolic abstract paintings. Tracey acts as a medium, interpreting visions of the digital realm and partial reality. Feldschuh’s paintings investigate interactions of subatomic particles, portraying these in a fashion that for me connects to af Klint’s and Tracey’s works in its visual impact and bold juxtaposed colors.
In contrast, Sarah Eagen invites the viewer to experience a very intimate, personal setting, not engaging abstract ideas like much of the work in this exhibition, but rather highlighting the physical details of bodies laid bare in stripped environments.
Combining a portrayal of impersonal glitches, the search for human interaction, and contact by exposing ourselves is Sierra Ortega, whose work balances the being and non-being expertly. Intimate like Eagen’s work, Ortega’s d1s1nt3grat3 is both kitschily entertaining and sad in its isolation. The body itself is losing pixels like snowflakes or dust, painting a heart-wrenching, haunting picture.
Pellman & Raimondi’s NGC 1999 is self-described as “an immense object (…) at its heart is a void that beckons us”. For me, this sums up the exhibition's selection of works. The artworks in “The Void and the Cloud” take you on a journey down the rabbit hole, or rather, out and beyond the wormhole, traveling further away from practical matters on earth. Still, the scientific and technological implications in much of these works are informative and playful. The art renders information and data scrupulously processed, rearranged, questioned, and often, turned inside out.