The U Oregon Digital Arts BFA Exhibition, Watch Your Mouth, is composed of 12 artists completing their fifth year degree program experience. An entire year has been dedicated to the development of their creative process, their conceptual motivations and the production of a vast range of media in an art context. These artists seek to define meaning and purpose in a complicated world. They are invested in a critical inquiry into how humankind navigates a complex existence. This thesis exhibition is the result of mining the abstract space between humans and technology, researching cognitive behavior, dissecting language and information delivery systems, examining our poetic relationships to space and place, investigating material translations, process obsessions, and questioning personal philosophies, all with an often dark, twisted and cryptic sense of humor.
There is a diversity and consistency to the Digital Arts BFA artists’ work. The range of media and methodologies employed span hybrid digital output, computer programming, image capture, drawing, animation, sculpture and as always, evidence of the skilled hand. Clearly a mark of the UO Digital Arts experience, the ideas reign importance over the media. It is the ideas that appear consistent and substantial, for this unique BFA experience. Like barometers for culture and society-at-large, these artists ask important questions about how and why we live in a technologically fertile, swiftly moving world. Change, thought, story, space, inquiry, truth, translation, language, communication, digitization, these ideas are consistently mined and dissected from this critical, analytical group of young artists. It is with their work we attempt to find a better understanding to our place in the universe.
The artists are Brian Aebi, Amy Chan, Braeden Cox, Gage Hamilton, Matt Pfliiger, Andrew Pomeroy, Steven Robinson, Brad Saiki, Lauren Seiffert, Tanya Tracy, Chris Wilson and Zach Yarrington. The UOregon Digital Arts faculty is Colin Ives, Craig Hickman, John Park, Michael Salter, Ying Tan, and Kartz Ucci. The UOregon Digital Arts BFA Exhibition, Watch Your Mouth, will occupy the White Box exhibition space at the White Stag Building, opening June 2nd 2011.
According to the University’s Community Service Center Managing Director Megan Smith, it started out with two simple questions: Why do we have people who are hungry? And how can we solve that?
Smith, who also heads the University’s RARE (Resource Assistance for Rural Environments) program is partnering with the Oregon Food Bank to help solve these questions. For at least three years, RARE has worked across the state to provide food assessments of local food systems to review what needs to be done in order to provide fresh, local and nutritious food to rural communities.
“It’s the first of its kind,” says Smith. “A full food assessment across the state will provide a template of what we need to do to build a strong local food system. This could influence state and federal policy, helping to increase sustainability for the future. RARE is helping to bring a new energy to this undertaking.”
This year, there are four participants working in rural communities across the state, working to provide networking among producers, creating food guides and providing training and technical support to help communities access resources.
“Rural communities have a critical shortage of people power to concentrate energy on any number of issues that challenge them,” says Sharon Thornberry, Community Resource Developer for the Oregon Food Bank. “RARE participants have been able to provide that people power for community food systems to work.”
Thornberry explained how RARE has positively influenced community food systems. From creating non-profits to starting up farmers markets and community gardens, for the first time, isolated rural communities are able to access emergency food resources.
RARE participant John Dean, who was placed in Astoria to work with creating a local food assessment, agrees that RARE has been a beneficial implementation to rural communities.
“You can’t have a strong rural community without food and access to food,” explains Dean. “Having communities be more self-sufficient with their economic future needs is really important. We want to make a difference and be solidified as a permanent fixture in these local economies.”
For Smith, she hopes this project will be a long-term investment with RARE and the Oregon Food Bank.
“Over time, we hope to have a better picture of what we need to do to support local food markets,” says Smith. “It’s been a really rewarding experience to see this change in dialogue about food systems in remote communities. People are really seeing how important this is.”
Below is a photograph by UO Portland Digital Arts student and photographer, Tanya Tracy documenting Hung’s exhibit at the White Box:
Hung’s exhibit is a physically engaging and visual exploration of Chinese calligraphy and the ideology incorporated into the characters as a vehicle of expression. Chinese characters float across the wall with the use of two independently projected screens across a corridor-like space. This movement, captivating in itself, becomes even more entrancing when a viewer is introduced into this experimental media format. Walking into the space in front of the work, your body is integrated into the interactive piece with twin images of yourself which are recorded and transmitted onto the screen. Chinese characters swarm around your new doppelgangers whenever you move, migrating almost purposefully from screen to screen with speed and grace, and you are now immersed in this dialogue—a dichotomy meant to represent conflicting change and the transformation from traditional to modern.
Interacting with Bloated City | Skinny Language is a fantastically illuminating experience seamlessly incorporating the physical form of the viewer/participant, and creating a genuine sense of wonder, in an exploration of new media formats. As University of Oregon Digital Arts professor Colin Ives notes, this exhibit “uses the capabilities that the space [of the Gray Box] was designed for.” And, indeed, it is due to the foresight of Professor Ives and the international connection he established several years ago with Hung that this work was able to be brought to the University of Oregon and is now on exhibit at the White Box.
Recalling what initially intrigued Ives with Hung’s work, the artist-professor says that Hung “has a great way of approaching his work which manages to be both conceptual and humorous.” And, as one stands in Bloated City | Skinny Language, a participant in the fragments of language and brush strokes, encircled and enshrined by movement-sensitive characters, Hung hopes you are prompted to reflect on how you can locate yourself in your universe, both Heaven and Earth, and relate to the concepts of Dao (“The Dao gives birth to One. One gives birth to Two, Two gives birth to Three. Three gives birth to all things or a thousand things.”) A humorous aspect arises as one can turn and look back at one’s self overtaken by a flurry of animate letterforms, and encounter conflicting experiences: “change or unchanged, move or stay, to be or not to be.” You have been presented with the visual insight of both the simple and the complex, and both follow you, both inescapable.
JSMA | Where to Come From? Where To Go? | Video works by Hung Keung | Showing from April 5-June 19, 2011
White Box | Bloated City Skinny Language | Showing from April 5-May 14, 2011
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