Art

Outside the Box: New Media + Fast food

FIELD, “Interim Camp” (2009) (click to enlarge)

On September 9, the new midtown “de-junked” fast food restaurant 4food hosted the public opening of the second exhibition of Julia Kaganskiy and Karen Bookatz’s migrating Blue Box Gallery. Dedicated to showing new media art in alternative spaces, Blue Box’s latest show, un(processed)ed,  succeeded in using a space that would attract large numbers of people who may be unaccustomed to seeing new media art on this scale.

The artists featured in un(processed)ed were chosen because the process by which each work is made becomes the art work itself. Each artist utilizes existing or manipulated computer programs and software to generate their works. In a sense, there is a remove between the artist and the art insofar that the artist manipulates a device in such a way that it produces a particular set of results. A feeling of controlled randomness permeates each of the pieces. The installations are less a representation of chance happenings, however, and more of a yielding of control on the part of the artist to the means through which they produced it.

Although each artist operates within similar generative or deconstructive limits, each installation signifies an individual expression of that technique.

FIELD’s eerie generated landscapes make one feel as though you are peering through a monolithic window into a different dimension or planet. Marius Watz’s colorful, mutating, visuals pop from the screen like an evolving biological creature constantly in a state of flux. The distortion and augmentation of Luibo Borrisov’s videotaped walk along the Hudson River destroys all hint of that journey, leaving behind only a computationally subjective digital representation in its wake. And finally, MTAA pulls apart Andy Warhol’s iconic Campbell’s Soup Can by visually traveling along a trajectory of its most trivial elements, rendering it a mere series of random shapes and colors.

Beyond the White Cube

Left, Marius Watz, "Neon Organic" (2005); Right, MTAA, "Autorace #5 (Warhol's Campbell's Soup Can)" (2010) (click to enlarge)

While process isn’t a new focus in New Media Art, according to Kaganskiy, it is a distinguishing feature of contemporary art in general — and new media in particular — and, as a result, the curators decided to include it as as integral component of Blue Box Gallery’s “edifying mission.”

“Very few people are familiar with new media art, and we wanted to highlight one of the things that distinguishes this kind of art from other art making practices,” she said. In this respect, the curators says that 4food was also an attractive venue for the show. Bookatz called it “a truly unique opportunity. And the central location is ideal for offering our artists the best exposure possible.”

Kaganskiy says they weren’t interested in exhibiting in the “art neighborhood” of Chelsea, preferring instead an area “where people who might not typically seek out this kind of art, or any art for that matter, might have a chance to interact and be exposed to it.”

Viewing new media art as a marginalized movement that does not lend itself to gallery/museum spaces well, Kaganskiy said that part of their gallery’s mission is to embrace that dissonance rather than shy away from it. “There’s something very democratic about new media art, and as such it almost has more in common with street art than I would say it does with fine art.”

Exhibited on a large screen set into a corner of 4food’s sleek white interior, the installation spans the restaurant’s three floors, which provide a range of vantage points. Perhaps the best area to view the works, however, is from on top of the series of bench-like stairs where spectators are able to not only peer down at the work but they are also able to distance themselves to take it all in. The experience of the show varies, depending on a person’s proximity to the screen.

The show is an intriguing representation of process-oriented art in a public space where passersby — and anyone hungry for a burger — will be able to appreciate the abstract imagery and stunning visuals.

un(process)ed, organized by Blue Box Gallery, will be at 4food ( Madison Avenue & 4oth Street) from September 9 – 23 and you can find more photos by author of the exhibition here.


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