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An Exploration of Electronic and Digital Media: Wired Kingdom, Review

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Wired Kingdom, Arts Center of the Capital Region, Review

An Exploration of Electronic and Digital Media in Troy

Arts Center of the Capital Region The chambers of the Arts Center of the Capital Region in Troy echoed the murmurs of dozens of visitors and artists on Friday night, as the Wired Kingdom exhibit reception progressed. The exhibition, which ran from September 26th to 30th, brought together the works of locally made artists centering on electronic and digital media. It also brought in an impressive amount of art admirers, who delighted in speaking with many of the artists whose works were on display.

With the help of the Albany Sonic Arts Collective, the Arts Center assembled a strong variety of artwork from over 17 artists living in the Capital Region. Media ranged from pen and paper to video and sound equipment.

The pieces on display were largely experimental and predominantly cynical. With a taste for criticizing what technology has done to human communication, the artists propose tactful answers to the questions posed regarding our dependence on electronics.

Do people watch too much television? Silvia Ruzanka has cut together and faded scenes from “Law & Order” into a high speed video entitled Marathon (Season 17) to answer the question. Heads fade into each other formulaically and the courtroom spins predictably. We watch the same thing every episode, but perhaps we don’t realize it.

Some messages were understated. Timothy McMurray’s series of white gel pen on manila paper—Desktop Folder, App Folder 6 & 7, and Repository—show our everyday electronic images. He reduced the usually bright images into the hollow shells of what digital media is in reality. The small textured strokes give the pieces a depth far beyond the doodle on your class notes.

Other pieces were more striking. The Exquisite Corpse, put together by Peter Edwards and Chris Harvey, is a maelstrom of strings of colored lights extending upwards from live plants. The cloud of color is topped with a small television displaying a kaleidoscope of bright patterns. Instead of saying, “I don’t get it,” I found myself speculating the application of the title to the piece, the upward progression from living organisms that do not move to a changing, un-alive mechanism. Exquisite corpse is a method by which one builds off of what another has created, adding to a composition in sequence as a collaborative project.

Italian artist Ezramo brought her interactive piece, All the Words I Always Wanted to Tell You. This piece works with sound composition and ink on paper to experiment with reflective communication. On an old wooden table lay multiple strips of paper with phrases written on them. Each visitor takes a strip, reads it, reflects, and responds in a small notebook. Their response then becomes a strip of paper in the next exhibit. It becomes effectively thoughtful communication with a complete stranger.

Holland Hopson: Das Lied Von Der Erdbeer My favorite piece by far, Das Lied Von Der Erdbeer by Holland Hopson, seems to display the way fruit decay affects sound projection. On one side of the piece, ripe strawberries are connected to a speaker which plays Gustav Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde. On the other side, rotten strawberries are connected the same way, but this speaker projects an eerily garbled and disjoined hum of what used to be the same symphony. I don’t think it works in the way I want to believe it works, but it is certainly a fascinating enough concept.

Another standout was the electronic art piece BOTS (Battle of the Sexes) by Sean Hovendick. He places two Mac computers monitor to monitor, one displaying a man’s face and the other displaying a woman’s. Each has audio and video that accelerate into a squeaky noise. The one word they each speak? “Me.” The couple is apparently arguing, each trying to be heard faster and louder than the other.

Jacqueline Weaver says she creates a “new dialogue” in Translation: First 300 Words by using the first words of each text in her phone for three days and arranging them according to frequency and then order. The stark text projection on the white wall burns a hole in your vision like a cellular screen would.

Willie Marlow: MazeAlso featured were Kyra Garrigue’s audio-heavy videos Ice, Kissing (For Voice), and In Between, Willie Marlowe’s series of archival pigment print mazes (altered from Jeff Saward’s book Labyrinths & Mazes with permission), and Kim McLean’s graphic design, digitally manipulated newspaper in Rocket Blaster, The Incredible Two-Headed Monster, and Two Heads Better Than One.

The works in the gallery were ironic and self-conscious. They blend distance and humility, capturing a precise humanity within electronics. Strangely, the artists adopted electronic means to symbolize the detachment that electronics force us into. Is this a comfort, a crutch, or something else? Is it positive or negative? Creations like this add to the discussion regarding how technology affects us and our ability to communicate. The exhibition itself becomes appropriately satirical yet alarmingly accurate.

Kate Smith is an Assistant Editor for The Free George.

The Free George is the online magazine and visitors’ guide of Upstate NY, covering things from Albany to Lake Placid, including Saratoga, the Lake George region and the Adirondacks. Check out our City Blogs section for our extended coverage areas as well.

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