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Thursday, October 29, 2015

NEAT: Art and Tech Converge at Contemporary Jewish Museum

Posted By on Thu, Oct 29, 2015 at 12:30 PM

click to enlarge Dunne & Dar's NAAG XY (2015) uses light, foam and plaster to create the illusion of a living organism. - GABRIEL L. DUNNE, VISHAL K. DAR
  • Gabriel L. Dunne, Vishal K. Dar
  • Dunne & Dar's NAAG XY (2015) uses light, foam and plaster to create the illusion of a living organism.


In NEAT: New Experiments in Art and Technologya new show now underway at Contemporary Jewish Museum, nine artists and artistic teams display works in which they combine their artistic vision with current technology. The effects are often hypnotic.

When you enter the exhibit on the museum's second floor, your eyes will no doubt be drawn to Paolo Salvagione's bizarre, surreal Rope Fountain. Using a blank white screen, two small motors and what appear to be standard clothesline rope, the artist creates the illusion of water running through a fountain. Small wheels inside the motors spin continuously, pulling on the two pieces of rope, forcing them to twirl endlessly around in an upright position. It's the motor speed that keeps the rope elevated, which suggests the illusion of flowing water.

click to enlarge Artist Alan Rath keeps his eye on you with Voyeur III, his mixed media piece. Created in 2007. - ALAN RATH
  • Alan Rath
  • Artist Alan Rath keeps his eye on you with Voyeur III, his mixed media piece. Created in 2007.
NEAT is inspired by EAT: Experiments in Art and Technologya 1960s art project which sought to break down barriers between artists and scientists and to expand the artist's role in social developments related to new technologies. NEAT is curated by Renny Pritikin, CJM's Chief Curator, with Salvagione serving as a consultant. Salvagione is one of nine artists represented in NEAT. 

"In the second decade of the twenty first century, the role of the artist and engineer has merged," Pritikin said. "Programming is understood as a new tool for artists to create work, just like a paintbrush or a pencil, and with the understanding that interdisciplinary thinking is inherent to individual makers now."

Pritikin added that NEAT is a celebration of the artist/engineering aesthetic and the Bay Area's role in fostering it.

"NEAT is an expression of the Jewish commitment to new forms of knowledge," said CJM executive director Lori Starr. "This openness to innovation is embedded in the CJM's mission to engage with cutting age developments in contemporary art."

Several of the pieces may make viewers feel as though they've wandered into another world. Michah Elizabeth Scott's Eclipse (2015) offers an acrylic globe which appears to be floating in mid-air. Small, flashing electric bulbs on the inside of the piece emit a dark, purple light, as computerized sound effects complete your journey into a haunting universe.

Paul DeMarinisTympanic Alley features several dozen tiny loudspeakers hanging from the ceiling of a small, partially soundproofed room. Each speaker emits electronically induced static noises. When heard together, the simulated sound of a waterfall is created.

NAAG XY, a collaboration between artists Gabriel Dunn and Vishal K. Dar, features a large, shapeless foam and plaster piece mounted onto a wall. With the use of multiple projectors, an endless stream of black-and-white circles, squares, dots and lines move about the piece, giving it the illusion of being a living organism.
As you walk around the exhibition room, you might feel that you're being watched. You are. Alan Rath'Voyeur III is one of several of the artist's pieces to be included in NEAT — they all feature electronic eyes that appear to be gazing upon CJM visitors.

NEAT: New Experiments in Art and Technology through Jan. 17, 2016, at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, 766 Mission, 415-655-7800.            

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