First Thursday Reception, June 4, 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.
EVERYTHING IS OURS is an exhibition that presents the culminating work of 9 students graduating from The University of Oregon Department of Art Digital Arts Program. From pencil on paper to digital animation to video installation, the wide variety of work on display pushes the collective understanding of digital arts.
The Digital Arts Program at the University of Oregon encourages students to combine new media practice and visual art theory, with strong technical sophistication, a rich sense of visual design, and an ability to articulate artistic research. The UO program in digital arts emphasizes creative thinking, experimentation, visual communication delivery systems, and intense research. The clear and honest visual communication of an idea requires a fluent understanding of the visual language and the ability to articulate it.
Presenting work by artists,
TAYLOR LORRAINE WILSON
WHITE BOX 24 NW First Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97209-4038
Damien Gilley Joins University of Oregon in Portland A&AA Digital Arts Program | Winter 2013
For those of us lucky enough to have encountered a visual arts, design or creativity-based education somewhere in our past, at one point, we, invariably, were exposed to the fundamentals of formal analysis—an effort to analyze formal aspects of a work of art by dissecting the artist’s efforts into elements and principles. It is a concept and a process that usually begins at the beginning: with a discussion of composition and the use of the simple line.
A line. It has the uncanny ability to take us from one place to another. It leads, we follow. It can be many things: thick, thin, horizontal, vertical, short, tall, diagonal. However, it is anything but basic. This extending mark or lingering stroke, stretching into space without much width to speak of, is the fundamental mark in all works of art. It defines, it divides, it embellishes, it conquers: it shows us the way. It can flow like a Rodin sketch, strut across a wheatfield with van Gogh precision, it can soar into the heights of a cathedral or flee into oblivion; it can provoke us Rising Down in a Mehretu. It is a shape that defies shape, a force not purely found in nature (a place that seems to have realized the value of mass and substance), and a definition of all things both real and imagined.
Into this linear exploration of the possibility of contour, comes Damien Gilley armed sometimes with only his ubiquitous roll of masking tape. Perhaps best described in his own words, Gilley is a multi-disciplinary artist and educator based in Portland, Oregon. And he makes use of the line. Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? Hardly. Take a look.
His biography tells us his work has been exhibited nationally and internationally at venues including Tetem Kunstruimte (Enschede, Netherlands), EastWestProject (Berlin, DE), Las Vegas Art Museum, Arthouse (Austin), the Art Museum of South Texas (Corpus Christi), and in Portland at Rocksbox, Linfield College, Wieden+Kennedy, the American Institute of Architects, the Pacific Northwest College of Art, and the Portland 2010 Biennial, among others. Creating work with a global acceptance, Gilley is finding his method embraced by varying public and private entities.
His work has been reviewed by Artforum.com, the Oregonian, Willamette Week, Portland Mercury, Las Vegas Review Journal, the Austin Chronicle, drainmag.com, and was included recently in New American Paintings.
This winter term 2013 at the University of Oregon in Portland School of Architecture and Allied Arts, Damien Gilley joined us as an adjunct instructor for the Digital Arts Program. He is leading the pack of voracious fifth year BFA Digital Arts students in more ways than one: ambitiously planning student exhibitions in our White Stag Light Commons space, inviting special guest presentations and critiques to interact with his students, and planning future review sessions. He has taken to our space like a well-seasoned regular, utilizing the Output Room and radiating out his special brand of digitalesque-handmade work. And that is a key part of his intrigue—that unification of the digital with the hand-done. It might seem mystifying and slightly oxymoronic but it works in a very avant-garde, technology-based Portland-cum-DIY way. This year, in particular, his presence seems somewhat unstoppable. Get off a plane at the Portland International Airport, and winding your way through Concourse A, you get to pass Gilley’s latest in-the-public-eye installation. It is large and mesmerizing–blue masking tape spanning, reaching, breaching, transporting us away little by adhesive little. It is Gilley in his element—taking us places using technology and masking tape– and all we have to do is stand and stare and visually wander. Even when the tape begins to dry, the sticky-stuff harden and peel off the wall, Gilley delightfully accepts this as all part of the process–“that’s what happens,” he cheerfully insists, “that makes it handmade.” His philosophy on this merging of true high-tech and lowly rolls of hardware-store tape truly provides the cohesive core the medium (tape) might lack.
I asked Gilley to tell me about his practice, his process and his experience (or the experience he hopes to have here at the UO in Portland). And while I was fascinated by his recent installation at the Portland International Airport and the idea of masking tape (still absolutely captivated by the idea of masking tape….), this was to be a chance to let Gilley enlighten our left brain | right brain balance and give us a glimpse of how he is able to use a line in unexpected and unpredictable ways.
My practice finds its home in a fine art context, creating installations and large-scale drawings in situ that challenge a viewer’s rational understanding of space. I use digital design programs to sketch and plan these experiential projects, ranging from Illustrator to Google SketchUp, which I utilized first as a graphic designer in Los Angeles a decade ago. Now I use these tools to produce work that references digital languages, but are ultimately executed by hand in materials that step away from digital processes, like masking tape for instance.
Regarding his work with the Digital Arts’ students:
I am excited to develop dialog with the students about the hybrid nature of art making today, especially in the context of a digital/physical relationship. I think it is critical as artists to continue to question processes of making and develop lateral thinking strategies that explore new methods of understanding our world. The students do not need to invent completely new processes necessarily, but instead find a personal relationship to their investigations of our contemporary, digital society. This leads to a variety of complex projects that explore unique approaches to making and alternative exhibition possibilities.
Being an artist who identifies with both traditional media and digital processes, I love the opportunity to contribute my conceptual interests in the field to the AAA dialogue. I feel programs that saturate themselves in the current digital reality have the most potential of new programs today, really digesting the contemporary landscape in a complex way that investigates visual, cultural, virtual, and interactive phenomena.
And what we have to look forward to this term:
The students will create new work for a midway exhibition in February in addition to the development of their thesis culmination in May. Throughout the term various artists will come share their work, in particular artists who traverse both contemporary art and design practices. These will be valuable interactions with active exhibiting artists. It is a great opportunity for intimate discussion and conversation about how to exhibit locally and nationally, what digital processes do for artwork today, and how the art and design worlds correlate.
I believe in science the same way most Christians believe in God: with faith, rather than understanding. I trust logic and order that science offers as explanation for my reality without real comprehension. Humanity inherently sees scientific and technological innovation as both threatening and liberating. Will it turn on us one day? Will it eventually offer us paradise?
In their inaugural video to announce the opening of their June 2012 White Box exhibit, The Rude Brood showed us an anonymous hand crudely slapping coffee grounds into an auto-coffee maker: “Thwap!” Steam wafts off the appliance, the mystery hand pushes the start button, and black fluid flows into the carafe. We see a counter top littered with java grounds, and a lone coffee mug. The hand reappears to pour hot coffee into the white mug. The mug is turned to reveal a horned skull. As if this image is not quizical enough, the skull seems to be frozen, mouth open in jest or gesture. This is the Rude Brood’s coat-of-arms: the skull human remains are decoratively surrounded by acanthus, a crown tops the shield-like image, and a fist holds tightly to two decidely non-digital tools, paintbrush and x-acto knife. The words “Rare Breed” grace the emblem in a ribbon-swirl. Undoubtedly, the students of the Rude Brood knew their audience would be captivated by this crest, and, indeed as you stare, the skull sticks out its tongue and blows. The caption bluntly reads, “Brewed Rude.”
And, so is your first experience with the Rude Brood, the 12 digital arts students who completed their Bachelor of Fine Arts in the Portland Digital Arts Program at the White Stag, spring 2012. For spring term 2012, the Rude Brood percolated under the guidance of Colin Ives, UO Professor of Digital Art. Previously, the group had been instructed by Craig Hickman (fall term, 2011) and John Park (winter 2012). Coming together in Portland for the final three terms that would culminate in receiving their Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees, the Rude Brood’s ideas bubbled and brewed finding increased expression and clarity with each review and project. You may preview images of the final review on the University of Oregon: School of Architecture and Allied Arts Facebook page.
In her artist statement (reproduced in part in the quote above), Olivia Storm offers a glimpse into the curious, skeptical, and questioning nature of the Brood. Proudly owning up to their penchant to be disruptive, the Rude Brood was particularly bent on exposing and investigating the world they were about to wholeheartedly, and post-graduation, venture into. The Rude Brood designated the maxim of Choose Your Weapon to represent their oeurve. Their “weapons” perhaps sybolically represented in their Rude Brood crest (a paint brush and an x-acto knife)—came across as the weapons of their process: not necessarily violent but containing the potential to be disturbing; not specifically aggressive but capable of creating works ranging from frightening to uncomfortable. The Brood shows a vulnerability, an aggression and a demand to be heard, here and now, balanced with the pride and confidence of well-educated youth. Their work brazenly explores themes of suffering, nostalgia, commitment, and the human capability for communication. With that intention, the students presented a wide range of work varing from explorations of the horror film genre to a complete on-film exploration of self-help advice and “how to be successful.” And that’s just the beginning.
Just look at Michael Cooper’s contraption. Almost hinting at an “Eckardesque” appreciation and fabricated out of black leather, reflecting mirrors, and cold welded metal, a cell phone sits in the middle filming what is going on in front while the mirrors depict what transpires behind. One reviewer during the final review session, was overheard commenting that this object suggests an interesting “fetish-like” quality. The harness of this piece fits onto one’s shoulders and subjects the wearer to confront all angles of visual sensory perception. Cooper projects an experimental aesthetic with a nod to Da Vinci-like body accoutrements and an embrace of modern technology. Is this to evoke an idea of suffocating cerebral overload or a comment on our brave new world of constant smartphoning, where being “out of touch” simply has ceased to exist?
Rude Brooder, Grahame Bywater audiciously proposes an almost mocking sneer at expected social etiquette, privacy and confidentially. He audio broadcasts his personal secrets from inside the cavern of a whiskey barrel for all to hear (if you are so inclined to want to lean in and publicly show your interest). Should we be embarrassed to be curious? Why do we want to hear his intimate musings? Or is this one more step in the curating of our selves to others? Bywater doesn’t seem to care—he puts it out there, but sinks his secrets well within the barrel. His audience has to show their interest thus exhibiting care, empathy, compassion, and, for a few moments, granting him our full attention.
So eager and experimental was another, Tyler Centanni migrated off to uncover a “real world ” experience devoting himself to three months of door-to-door sales in a corner of suburbia. He opted for a shirt and tie, hair slicked back, attempted a “dressed-up” assemblage. His experiment culminated in marriage to his girlfriend during the final review officiated by another Rude Brood student. Reviewers and bystanders were left to question the seriousness of this ultimate evocative gesture and wonder if he thumbed his nose at button-downed tradition or truly was about to enter the world of marital bliss. Can a legal union be so spontaneous at the risk of seeming callous? Was it up to us to question their understanding of the sanctity of marriage, or the seriousness of being connected to another person? This was Centanni’s version of success, but one he read in a book and so seems doomed to failure. Perhaps it was all a comment on our own personal paths to happiness and achievement.
That’s just a peek at the savior-faire of this unique group. The work will make you think and wonder at your own ability to communicate, to feel compassion, and to recognize your propensity to pay attention. Overall, it will compel you to question how you interact with others and if you are paying enough attention. The Rude Brood provides a journey for you to wander through their experiments of human social, visual, and auditory interactions. How much you glean from this is left completely up to you: how much of your personal ethos and circumstance are reflected back in Cooper’s mirrors, is your business. The Rude Brood has done an exceptional job drawing the viewer into their frame of reference, into their cultural tapestries, and into exposing their fears, apprehensions, and insecurities.
Make sure you step close, but not that close to Christine Thomas’ wall; please pause to see Leah Chan’s cultural exploration and see a struggle to work through tradition and mesh with modernity; stop in front of Amanda Riebe’s probing questioning of image and internet; and the mixology of electrode brain science put forth by Keith Stedman.
But that’s not all, Olivia Storm will show you form inspired by cinema and you will wonder at function, man, nature or robot-inspired; Keith Chaloux will astound you with his new take on old art history and let you tread on his creation as it winds through the White Box; Brett Ciccarello’s short film of science fiction and robotic creatures will charm and amuse and you will feel empathy for a completely digital, non-living thing; McKenzie Sampson will confront you with a floor to ceiling mural-like depiction of androgynous characters, with significantly noticeable time-telling pieces.
Trevin Swick will rock your world using three large balloons and plenty of conceptual issues; and Katya Vitovskaya will, let’s just say it, shock and horrify but soften it all with lovely water colors. Her world of movie violence and grievious injury absorbing into the paper but shown to us on video as if to say, here there is no wiping up the gore. We can’t even touch it.
If you are in Portland, take a moment to walk around the exhibit at the White Box and see the Rude Brood’s work. The exhibit is up until July 21, 2012. You will experience a fascinating glimpse into both the Rude Brood’s self-conscious personalities and their natural, impulsive inclinations. This exhibit is a bit rude in places, outspoken, questioning, arrogant, and more than a trifle rebellious in justifiable ways that seek to draw the Rude Brood audience to new conclusions and socially relevant realizations within a contemporary culture that has come to rely on digital methods. These emotions and inclinations seethe and brew in the Rude Brood and fuel their creative process.
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