FOCUS: Technology: Friend or Foe?

Filed in Exhibitions, Past Exhibitions by on October 7, 2017

Exhibiting Artists

Cynthia Linden Carlaw, Catskill Storm digital photograph

Cynthia Linden Carlaw

Res Ipsa Loquitor
“The thing speaks for itself.”

Jose Gomez, Compression pigment print on acid free banana paper

Jose Gomez

My current library of work consists primarily of pigment prints of images generated with a dynamic geometry software. The images are constructed by repeated applications of geometric transformations to simple visual themes, usually inspired by known constructions and dissections, and to the evolving fields of visual variations of these themes.

All of my art is abstract, non-representational, color and media playing a unifying role.  

Viewing my art should not feel like looking at an idea, should not seem like the predetermined result of a concept and should not require an explanation.  I attempt to make art that is independent of language, that is present within the space, in the moment, and that unfolds logically in time into personal idioms.

Michael Hunt, #THEHAPPYDAYS (DAKOTA TERRITORY: A Cosmic American Search for a Former Clarity) sign vinyl on dibond

Michael Hunt

DAKOTA TERRITORY:A Cosmic American Search for a Former Clarity
A collection of illegally obtained images from a fictional social studies textbook. The thief may also be the creator…and a time traveler, mashing up images set in the Dakota Territory looking for meaning in “progress” by conjuring spirits from the past, present and future (not necessarily in that order).

“These times are too progressive. Everything has changed too fast. Railroads and telegraph and kerosene and coal stoves—they’re good things to have but the trouble is, folks get to depend on ’em.”

– Charles “Pa” Ingalls, winter of 1882, Dakota Territory

Dina Bursztyn, Phone to Talk to Oneself Updated stoneware glazed, wire, bead

Dina Bursztyn

I conceive most of my pieces as a contemporary artifacts for a democratic mythology that includes spirituality and sensuality, as well as politics and humor. I am interested in breaking categories and linear hierarchical systems, in marrying cultures, times and ways of thinking.

Joan Barker, Office Space Night and Day original photographs combined with photographs of original paintings, archival ink print

Joan Barker

My paintings include spontaneous gesture as well as patterns of asymmetrical squares. These bricks of color are then photographed,turned into pixels, and incorporated into a final printed image that includes photographs of walls documented in places such as Iceland, Mexico and New Zealand. By combining painting and photography I am creating a maze that meanders through constructed shelters and describes a timeless, universal need. Parallels between the psychological and actual are built and balanced by water based paint,the reflected representation of concrete and negative space.

Imagination is fed by discovery. Photography now invites us to see what the eye cannot. While the process of painting is visceral its similarity to Photoshop is striking. We know what egg yolk, paint and sand feel like. In Photoshop consider viscosity/opacity, brush tools,rulers, layers, gesture, color and concept. The brain uses these options to enhance visual vocabulary.

In my images, a photographic record of demolished walls exposing building materials and facades, cold dark cave surfaces, an office setup in an old fabric factory where laborers were abused, a family of stuffed albatross in a museum, a painted mural of black sand and melting glaciers hiding a construction site are reminders of obsolescence and the construct of time.

Our brains and bodies will always be a mystery. The marvel of technology seems like another invention of a god. We are evolving.But we cannot escape our animal instincts or our capacity for moral reflection. Technology will continue to test and inspire.

Darcy Gerbag, The Syracuse Pictures, TB8530D1C1 3DVR abstract painting on canvas

Darcy Gerbarg

Gerbarg is a third-generation abstract expressionist painter, who early in her creative practice, started working with digital tools. She was a visiting artist in several of the first computer graphics and 3D animation research facilities.

Her latest body of work, The Syracuse Pictures, are digital from start to finish, created, informed and controlled by Gerbarg’s physical gestures and sensibilities. They begin as colored light in a 3D virtual environment: colorful, expressive paint strokes that Gerbarg further develops into works on canvas.

Gerbarg exploits the functionality of computer graphics software and digital image making tools, byputting on 3DVR goggles and making expressive, often whimsical gestures, in explosions of color,referencing both the natural and built environments. Her hands and body perform physical gestures, in a three-dimensional virtual world, where she surrounds herself with brush strokes of colored light. Then,with a variety of digital imaging techniques, Gerbarg takes sections of this colorful, 3D virtual painting and creates impactful, moving, human scale, pictures on canvas.

Gerbarg describes The Syracuse Pictures as 3DVR abstract paintings on canvas. They’re originals, not copies. They’re paintings, or as Mark Borghi says, “prints with a painting backstory.” 

The viewer feels the movement and depth of space in these pictures because the images start out as expressive physical gestures in a three-dimensional environment. As Magdalena Sawon, Postmasters Gallery, puts it, these digital paintings “carry a distinct time stamp of today.” 

Gerbarg grew up in the foothills of the Catskills, surrounded by cornfields and mountains. She has exhibited her work internationally.

The Syracuse Pictures are painted in a virtual world at the Future Reality Lab, Courant Institute, New York University and printed on canvas at Light Work, Syracuse University, in 2017.

Joe Tantillo, Cable Tension digital montage, giclee on paper; Ed. 100

Joe Tantillo

Growing up I especially admired the artists who were ahead of their time or out of their minds, like Da Vinci, my hero as a child, and Van Gogh. Knowing that they were rejected in their time was always the flip side to this pursuit. What came from this group of artist-explorers was not from others, and their inner selves did not seem to be guided by anything except self-discovery.

As I expanded my art pursuits I learned the craft but resisted the pull to do what others had already done. In 1974 I graduated from Syracuse University School of Visual Arts, fully educated in the work of many artists I greatly admired. I began my art career in the 1970s as a painter and illustrator, and later turned to graphic design to earn a living and purposely work in a craft that I felt had a lot to do with Abstract Expressionism. From 1979 through 1999 I ran my own graphic design studio, Tantillo Design Group, both in New Haven, CT and in LaGrange, NY, winning 33 international, national, and regional awards for my design work. In 2000 I turned to digital photography, as I was by then well schooled in the Adobe digital design suites, of Photoshop, illustrator, and print design.

I took off as a digital photographer and won awards in rapid succession. In the mid 2000s I placed as a finalist in Canon-sponsored Photographer’s Forum magazine’s 22nd Annual Spring Photography Contest, and in the 23rd Annual Spring Photography Contest, a contest that received over 21,300 entries worldwide.

I connected in New York City with Nexus Gallery in SoHo, which specialized in digital artwork, RiverGallery in Beacon, and The Vault in Springfield VT, where I had a summer house. I quietly started pushing the envelope with Photoshopping of my photo images, but stuck with conventional image topics. I used the technology to push the photo a little further artistically from its starting place.

In 2011 I broke loose from the restraint I had self-imposed of only showing something from reality and made my own reality. I once again headed into Abstract Expressionism using my digital skills to take my images to new places, totally transforming photo-matter into something new. That has become the artwork—the image-creation—that I make today.

My path is now taking me to a new place, where what I have captured in my camera becomes the raw material for an inward journey. It uses the places and forms I’ve captured and transforms them in to a new place to go—one that comes through me and makes its own instance in a hidden time and place of my own making.

In this new process I have not abandoned my drawing and painting skills but they are now lovingly brought into the creative process using new methods.

Laura Gurton, Bits and Pieces Mandala Grid #2 archival print with ink, metallic paint, glitter on paper

Laura Gurton

My Bits and Pieces series developed directly from photographic images of my Unknown Species series, paintings executed in oil, alkyd, acrylic and sometimes ink.  At first I was just playing with various photo apps on my IPad I became intrigued with the patterns that could develop by stretching the image and then making it symmetrical.  Repeating that process created complex details.  I was also pleased to be able to see the same image in many different color combinations.  As a painter I am always deciding on what colors should be next to each other. The digital process allows me to quickly see and have every possibility.  Once my composition is complete I am happy to create the same image in various colors. I also find it engaging to use sections of a paintings and then combine it with details from a different painting.  Usually there are four or five fragments from various paintings used in one of my Bits and Pieces works on paper.

When I first started printing the images I had created on my IPad I thought I would offer them as prints since they would be more affordable then my paintings. I understood the advice I was given to create limited series so they would feel special to viewers, but in my mind they would only be special if they were one of a kind or hand printed like lino prints, etchings, collagraphs etc.  After a while I decided to experiment further.  I have used them as a first layer for my paintings covering them with transparent glazesso parts of them show and parts get covered with opaque paint.  I have also used colored pencils, gouache, various inks, metallic paints, glitter and rhinestones on top of them, leaving some of the matte surface of the original print showing.  My digital work is now part of the mixed media I have combined them with and each one is one of a kind.  

Danny Goodwin, Invisible Duct Tape, 2016 pigment print

Danny Goodwin

My work is, in equal parts, an ongoing interrogation of photographic veracity and a critique of authoritarian power. Except when it isn’t (I am learning to embrace contradiction and paradox).

I’ve worked for more than a decade on projects that relate to the United States intelligence community and attendant issues such as surveillance, secrecy, deception and violence, but my more recent work departs from the specificity and overtly political agenda of that work. Nonetheless, in my recent Decoys, Duds and Dummies project (goofy, minimal stilllifes, and filmscratched landscapes) my preoccupation with veracity finds a foothold in spaces,objects, and surfaces that masquerade as quotidian and familiar but are clearly unreliable narrators.

Object Oriented Ontology factors into this equation, as does the modernist obsession with the grid, particularly as it informs photography’s digital evolution. The familiar checkerboard grid of a transparent layer in Photoshop, which is now more a signifier of empty space than actual empty space, represents more than a passive, benign background. Handconstructed environments and objects impersonate their virtual counterparts and reveal the circular logic that under girds the current popular fascination with 3D printing and related imaging technologies.

Michael Gayk, Bloom. Torque, 2011 dyed photopolymer

Michael Gayk

I am interested in digital manufacturing technologies that can alter the physiology of the human body and how access to these technologies become popularized and a part of public discourse. We witness this today with cosmetic surgery and obsessions with beauty, or extreme prosthetics that can enable war veterans integration back into society. Furthermore, digital technologies have the opportunity to redefine the structure of the human body not only functionally but also symbolically.

October 7 – November 12, 2017

Reception: October 7, 4-6 PM


Juried by Bryan Czibesz
Assistant Professor of Art, SUNY New Paltz

Exhibiting Artists

Joan Barker
Dina Bursztyn
Cynthia Linden Carlaw
Michael Gayk
Darcy Gerbarg

Jose Gomez
Daniel Goodwin
Laura Gurton
Michael Hunt
Joe Tantillo

Statement from the Juror

It has been a pleasure to jury the WAAM FOCUS exhibition Technology: Friend or Foe? since it has allowed me to peer into some meaningful potential: the process, material, and content that defines the tenor of our technological moment, as felt here, in this part of the Hudson Valley. Of course, pigments and porcelain and pixels are all profound technologies, we just didn’t develop them all at the same time. For artists, they could be human ages, like stone, bronze, and iron. As all these technologies are available to us, what is to be done?

Digital technology and our current fascination with screens, pixels and data feels like a new threshold, probably most importantly because it depends on simulation. We increasingly inhabit a world of simulated tools: our phones simulate buttons, Photoshop simulates brushes and canvas, cameras simulate aperture, and 3d modeling simulates objects in false, infinite space. This all defies time, gravity, and space, and authorship itself becomes particularly slippery when both the maker and the thing are provisional in their simulation. This can be disorienting.

But it occurs to me that the work selected for this exhibition—for all its varied perspectives on a range of technologies—actually has as its locus the human body. At times the body is still the stylus that makes marks on digital canvas or clicks to adjust, rotate, copy, scale or dodge. At times it is the agent that manipulates material plastic enough to preserve our poking and prodding. At times it asks to be adorned with forms worthy of interfacing directly with skin. At times it is manifest as homage, where bilateral symmetry serves as proxy for human beauty and patterns serve as abstraction of nature that help make us feel comfortable embodied in it. At times the simulation tricks this embodied experience, as we capture, remake, and reconfigure in cycles. Certain technologies facilitate this, while others interfere. It is here that interesting friction is encountered, and choices are made.

In the end, simply choosing materials and methodologies—an act of discrimination—demonstrates our judgement about what way of working feels right, comfortable, or appropriate. This discrimination reveals varying levels of celebration and indictment of technology, builds content in the work, and reveals that our attention to both what we make and how we make it certainly endures.

Bryan Czibesz
September 2017


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