Digital Art (R)evolution at Dedee Shattuck Gallery
On a high, after leaving Cade Tompkins’s space today, I drove out to Westport. This latest exhibition at Dedee Shattuck's space is getting a lot of Providence buzz, and for good reason, major involved parties are representative of RISD, Brown, and a sponsored gallery at the RISD Museum. The most exciting thing though about this show is it's strong female>male ratio.
I hadn’t been to this gallery since August 2011. It’s been awhile, but the building is still beautiful. Upon entering, a photograph by Richard Rosenblum was the first thing that I really saw before the gallery assistant came down the stairs. I asked about an exhibition list to which the response was no list, just this catalogue (which is very pretty and not for free, but I had to have it, so I suppose those logistics don’t really matter) I sighed a sad sigh, faked a smile, and continued to walk around the first space.
Leslie Thornton Binocular Series: La Brea Tar Pits 2013
Leslie Thornton’s work is impossible to not notice in this show. I added up all the work and made some math, and she makes up 25% of the exhibit. Her contributions to digital art though are wonderful. There are 10 works from her Binocular Series, which is part David Attenborough, part kaleidoscope, and part really fantastic. I was really shocked as to how many kaleidoscopes were in the show in general. Perhaps not so ironically, my mother has been obsessed with them for years. The Binocular Seriescould be a P.E.T.A art historian’s dream. You could discuss the obvious, animals. Then you could touch on binoculars and poaching, or you could get really serious and talk about the ever-looming “gaze” and animal captivity and finish off with contrast between reality of natural beauty and fantasy and manipulation via the kaleidoscope. Roberta Smith might not have been so wildly (ha) impressed two years ago, but I don’t think she really wanted to think to hard about it anyway.
Anne Morgan Spalter Mt. Otemanu
Anne Morgan Spalter is the other female presence in the room. Her interpretation of kaleidoscopes has a more mandala feel. Their scale is what really makes them remarkable. The one interpreted into a coffee table was my favorite because it was a perfect example of having digital art at home, without having to set up monitors everywhere. I hope no one sat on this at the opening.
The curatorial collaboration between Michael Spalter and Isabel Mattia was a success as well. It worked out to have the various artists, especially Thornton all over the gallery instead of sequestered to just one area. When I got over to salon-styled wall, I was pleased at the flow but sad to see something that there was an exhibition list, before it was cut up, pinned to the wall. Cue the Rolling Stones, because after all I got what I needed when I bought the catalogue.
I thought it was interesting to compare and contrast the work by the men and by the women in this show. Most of the men are represented by images that provoke math, science, minimalism, and other left-brain leanings. Despite this not really being a vast retrospective on digital art (because let’s face it MoMA would have added more contemporary men =/), the show really does aim to show digital art’s past, which ironically brought me back to that show Complexity (cruel irony, but brought me back in a way where I thought this older work would have supported his thesis in a cleaner way) I digress.
It was ultimately worth the drive to see the show and I’m happy to have the catalogue. The gallery assistant gave me the option of me sending her this piece for review before I went public with it. The suggestion made me laugh.