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Joe Nalven: Art | Anthropology

In Art, Feature, Interview on January 25, 2010 at 7:21 pm

Reimagining Innocent

I came across the artwork of Joe Nalven when I happened upon a website which he co-founded.  That site, Digital Art Guild, was brought into being “not to create a bureaucracy, but rather a platform which would further the individual artist’s growth and opportunities for exhibiting”, says Nalven, with the added importance of “reaching out to the wider public to broaden the understanding of digital art.”

Much like myself and other artists who are not just painters and sculptors, but also engineers, writers, photographers, architects, scientists, and the like–a phenomena I describe as TADAE–Nalven employs his background in anthropology to facilitate a rather curious narrative of imagery and media, juxtaposing indigenous subject matter and its associated diaspora with ephemera inspired graphics and painterly, digital layering.

Nalven,  who, with JD Jarvis, authored the book Going Digital: The Practice and Vision of Digital Artists, is the former Associate Director of the Institute for Regional Studies of the Californias at San Diego State University.  He has exhibited in SIGGRAPH, and is currently an Adjunct Instructor of Anthropology at San Diego City College.

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Art | Anthropology

An interview with Joe Nalven

by Max Eternity

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Max Eternity (ME):  Hi Joe, welcome to AD Mag

Joe Nalven (JN):  Good to be here.

ME:  Over the last few weeks we’ve had the chance to exchange many email correspondences, but you first caught my eye when I came across the Digital Art Guild (DAG) website.  Are you the founder of that organization?

JN:  We grew out of the San Diego Photoshop Users Group looking for something more than keeping up with the latest technology and techniques — we wanted a framework for exhibiting our art.  And yes, I am one of the founding members.

ME:  How long has DAG been around, and what’s its mission?

JN:  We started in 2003 and got an added push when SIGGRAPH, the granddaddy of computer generated graphics organizations, came to San Diego. It inspired us to put on an exhibit, Fusion, and to cross-promote with the SIGGRAPH Art Gallery.

Our mission was not to create a bureaucracy, but rather a platform which would further the individual artist’s growth and opportunities for exhibiting. We also saw the importance of reaching out to the wider public to broaden the understanding of digital art.

ME:  I’m aware that you are the moderator for some other online groups, relating to art and digital technology?

JN:  I was invited to become a co-moderator of the Yahoo DigitalFineArt Group that was started, and still owned, by Harald Johnson. He’s done an excellent job in providing resources for digital printing including his book, Mastering Digital Printing. That dovetailed with the more focused Yahoo DigitalArtGuild, which we set up for guild members, done as a way for us to have internal communication. Our outward facing self was the webzine that has seen more than seventy articles about digital art.  Both the online groups and the webzine are important for keeping in touch with each other, as well as outreach to the public.

And of course, [since] art intersects politics, I set up another Yahoo group called ArtPolitics. This is a smaller group, but we do get the opportunity to butt heads while we search for areas of compromise. Or sometimes just to deepen discussions on such hot topics as nudity, censorship, conspiracies, global warming, religion and all those fun topics.

Nalven Studio (website homepage  screenshot)

ME:  So, give us a bit of background.  Where did you grow up and how long have you had an interest in art?

JN: I grew up in Brooklyn in one of the early housing projects built in the 1940s. Because my dad went to NYU in theatre arts, we had an interesting mix of working class dynamics and being aware of classic culture, while enjoying the emergence of rock’n’roll. That was the time that Joseph Papp developed free Shakespeare productions in New York’s Central Park. Imagine seeing extraordinary actors such James Earl Jones, George C. Scott, Colleen Dewhurst, for free. Just line up early.

On my mother’s side, we celebrated our Ukrainian heritage and went to see the Moiseyev Dance Troupe and other American folk artists. So my interest in art was definitely part of my home life.

When I went to Brooklyn Technical High School, I received the didactic part of the arts− skill building in drafting, foundry, carpentry, machine shop, and printing. That was the craft side that complemented the more enthusiastic side of what art does for an audience.

I suppose my attempts to blend the mix of life experiences at a personal level, not to mention what was going on in the wider society with the impact of TV on pop culture, the psychic and real wars going on, from the War on Poverty to the Vietnam War, became part of my cut-and-paste collage art. This juxtaposition of realities was part and parcel of the postmodern zeitgeist.

Book cover image for Going Digital: The Practice and Vision of Digital Artists by Joe Nalven and JD Jarvis

ME:  Were you an artist, in the traditional sense, prior to the emergence of virtual art applications — digital art tools?

JN:  Apart from my learning the craft of making things in high school and continuing my personal interest in collage making, I didn’t have an academic schooling in the arts. Not with a professional mentor and not in a college art curriculum. I spent my after school hours perfecting my skill in foil fencing culminating in winning the NCAA Individual Foil Championship in 1965. I suppose one might say, tongue-in-cheek, was that I was developing another side of those fine motor skills.

Fast forward to the mid-1990s, I still recall receiving a swift kick in the rear from the owner of a service bureau. He had been scaling up my miniature collages and putting them on foam core boards when he said, “Joe, you’re the artist. You need to learn Photoshop.”  So I did [and] that was when I began my adventure in digital art making.

“Jumps”

ME:  I’d like to turn the discussion now to your portfolio of work.  At the nalvenstudio.com website you have images divided various categories:  Rethinking Portraiture, Embellishment, Structures and Motion and Pause.  There’s a wide range of subject matter, but let’s start with a piece from your Motion and Pause gallery.  I’d like to ask about a black and white, multiple-exposure photograph, of a person leaping and dancing about.  What’s the title of that piece and what’s the dance about?

JN:  Ahh, yes, Jumps. What does one do when there is nothing left to do? A random act at first, then multiplied in a variety of ways. Taken individually, I might have a series of separate images − Jump 1, Jump 2, etc. But why not put them altogether in the same image and then invert the image? The first challenge is taking interesting photographs; the second challenge is image editing or post-processing. In this image, I turned to collaging the jumping figure in an artful way against a bland backdrop. If there were too much going on behind the jumping figure, the image would likely have lost its punch. There’s no real reason for the dance, but like a child playing, we try to extend the moment of fun.

“Forest People”

ME:  In the Embellishment gallery there are two images that caught my attention.  The first entitled Forest People seems to tie into your background in anthropology?

JN: You are right about the connection. It is not a literal connection, just something one would imagine in some ethnography (if one were an anthropologist) or some fairyland place (if one were an artist).  I was photographing all sorts of images in Israel. In this case, there were head-scarved women. I had an extra piece of metal, longish and so I measured it out and considered how I might fill it with these women. I needed to distort one of the figures, which worked to my advantage as I blended in some wispy tall grass. My head and heart was not in the moment of a literal representation. So much the better in this case.

“Blur”

ME:  And of the second image, which kinda looks like a mummy of sorts, could you talk about that piece?

JN: Blur. I took a photograph. It was rather blurry and had some weird artifacts in it. Sometimes, the experimentation leads to an idea that is worth pursuing. Sometimes, not. In this case, the weird drool and the slits for eyes bridge the normal expectation of a face with something that might just be random lines. It is a disturbing puzzle with little help of becoming calm with the red/orange/yellow hues offset with the black/brown eyes, lips and drool. I am occasionally fascinated by the mania and craziness of life and would put this image into that sensibility.

“Stargazer”

ME:  You do quite a lot with photography, but not all of your work looks capture-based.  Some pieces are more painterly, while others resemble collage?  Take for instance Stargazer, which is a figural abstraction.  The texture of the piece looks kind of rough and random, but the coloring is rather delicate.

JN: You are correct in the spectrum of styles I find myself in at any one moment. In Stargazer, I wanted to do more with the portrait/photograph. I was at the beginning of my experimentation with patinas on metal. It occurred to me that I could create a template of color textures by dripping and dropping patinas onto brushed aluminum  and letting it bake in the sun. In this particular experiment, I decided to take a photograph of the dried metal patinas and then use it as a layer in Photoshop in tandem with the portrait. The puzzle was how to integrate these two images in a less than obvious representational way. Once I had that integration, I could print it on paper and face-mount it to plexi or go back to a metal. There is an ongoing dialogue and process in the creative endeavor. I might mention that there was an earlier integration of portrait and ivy on a wall. I pared back the face to such an extent that some viewers did not see the face, but only the ivy. Another psychological trick of the mind.

“Blue Sky”

ME:  Now in the Structures gallery there’s an image, which I think is a photograph.  However, to me it looks like an Ed Ruscha painting—a sort of pop-ish, illustrative rendering of an iconic architectural landscape.  I have a great love for sculptural buildings, as you know, but is that what this image is about, architecture as sculpture, or something else?

JN:  One of my problems or mind traps comes from going to a technical high school with many years of drafting, including architectural drawing, mechanical drawing, industrial design. Seems like too much geometry at times. Then again, that kind of spare linear composition has a definite appeal. So, this image harkens back to that frame of mind.

I was wandering around an office complex on a Sunday. I looked at the reflected interaction of these buildings and later, in Photoshop, I began to intensify colors and and clarify the structural elements (remove unwanted elements, remove posterized areas). I didn’t transform the original photograph so much as intensifying various elements within it.

“Yad Vashem”

ME:  And if you will, tell me about Yad Vashem.

JN: That’s the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem. No photographs are allowed inside, but outside looking in, is acceptable. But that turned out to be the stronger image.  Some distance from the glass and steel and concrete structure was needed. The reflections and triangular shape of the building formed the compositional lines, but since I started with a digital infrared image, the color adventure was along different lines than one normally anticipates with a visible light camera (that is the normal camera for most, but I have to distinguish it in my mind and database whether my original images are with one camera or the other). So even if one took the exact same picture at the exact same time of day from the exact same location with the exact same focal length, the starting point would seem very different with different optical wavelengths. Just one more experiment to work on; just one more adventure in finding a zone.

ME:  In a prior email exchange you shared with me a few images that I haven’t seen online.  Nevertheless, I’d like to ask about some of those, because they touch on one of my own theories about digital-aged art.  I’m talking about what I call Ethno Electro and Negro Electro.  These are words that I use, but more than the semantics of those words, the idea that I’m getting at is to describe digital works that have a over-riding narrative of indigenous peoples, much like the piece you did called “Totem Web.”  That’s a great title, using totem—an indigenous term, and web—formerly a natural term, now a digital term as well.  Tell me about this piece.

“Totem”

JN:  Whoopps. I created a bit of confusion here which I need to sort out first.  We have our various ways of cataloging our imagery. In my case, I want to distinguish fairly quickly if an image is a higher resolution one appropriate for printing or one that is web-optimized. In this case, the web at the end of the image title Totem is my shorthand for a lower resolution image. Sorry for the confusion, but in a way, you’ve added to how one might think about this image. Something I hadn’t anticipated.

I had the opportunity of traveling along the Alaskan coast and in Vancouver. The modern totem poles are very colorful and dramatic, but these images are too well defined to reinterpret.  The contemporary artist has made his statement and a photo of it would simply document another artist’s work. However, going back in time is possible, especially where the paints have disappeared and the wood has been eroded, leaving a whisper of what must have originally been a very dramatic sculptural object. The narrative of genealogy − of animal totem and clan  − have been muted as well, especially to those unfamiliar with insider understandings. For me, I was among the untutored in the insider meanings of these totemic structures, but they spoke to me. A landscape photographer or artist might find his or her fascination in the flow of color and arrangement of flora; I found my fascination in these seeming bland objects.

These photographs became a resource to intensify at one level, to add some real person eyes and lips (hopefully subtly) and odd splotches of color. Since this  image was mounted on metal, the aluminum substrate with patinas served to provide the color. This becomes a mixed media object; if I print it again, it will be different since the substrate will be prepared with a different flow of patinas.

Your own imagery, Ethno Electro and Negro Electro, has that same power for me. Actually, it reminds me of the Mud People Kachinas. All of these draw on that magico-religious power that served to cement society to the unknown. We have a Star Wars ‘Let the force be with you’ analog to that frame of mind or in Avatar with the Navi’s connection to Eywa. But the reality of band- and tribal life was a hard life − no electricity, no Wal-Mart, no cars; that’s hard for most modern folks to imagine. And yet that was the reality of 99.5% of the human experience. Those magico-religious connections help focus attention on getting by in a scary world. But that’s another story.

ME:  And last, but certainly not least, could you talk about World Identity.  This is definitely one of my favorite works, combining photography with digital painting that’s been layered with numerical values, all superimposed over a graph paper-like grid.  It’s rustic and naturalistic, but clearly digital and futuristic as well.  And again, you provide a great title.  What’s the story there?

JN:  I was responding to a call for art for the 2007 SIGGRAPH Conference. The theme was Global Eyes and asked the submitting artists to consider the various social forces affecting world society, including immigration. I had previously played with creating identity cards and saw this as an opportunity of revisiting that presentation of various selves. I created a template that included Mercator map lines and a series of numbers to represent a DNA sequence. That represented the big picture (the world) and the small picture (our DNA). The missing piece that would clinch the identity card was the person’s image. You are quite right about this first World Identity Card. I spent quite a bit of time working the photograph that it eventually became a painting. The other examples, three of them got into the SIGGRAPH Art Gallery that year, were not as embellished as this one became.

It does serve to rethink who we are. Are we that person on our driver’s license or passport or library card? Or are we that person on some future World Identity Card?

“World Identity Card 1”

ME:  Great work Joe.

JN:    I don’t often step back and appreciate the making real of what comes and goes in my imagination.

ME:  Thank you for your time.

JN:    And be well.

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Learn more about Joe Nalven here and here

Electronic Apartheid

In Art, Commentary on January 11, 2010 at 5:08 pm

“Mec de Mystery: Lynched” by Max Eternity

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Electronic Apartheid

by Max Eternity

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Is a new form of apartheid creeping in?  And in this new decade—this new millennium–where lies the intersection of social justice, art and technology?

January 1st 2010 marked the start of a new year.  And just after the New Year’s festivities came to a close, the first major holiday celebrated is the birthday of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., born January 15, 1929.  The late Dr. King, who is remembered for his leadership role during the 1960’s civil rights movement and his overall, exalted contribution to the expansion of Mahatma Gandhi’s teachings of non-violent social change, is undoubtedly the most respected black figure in modern times.

“Mec de Mystery: LEGENDS – Martin” by Max Eternity

For King, a deity of social equality, espoused a universal message that civil rights are human rights, making his birthday of utmost importance, not just to African-Americans, but to people of all colors and cultures throughout the world.

As the King celebrations wind down, another annual celebration of African-American achievement gets ushered in, with a month-long observation of February, noted nationally as Black History Month. This, when put into context that just one year ago the US seeing itself achieve a most notable milestones in its entire history, indeed in all of world history, as America elected Senator Barak Obama as the States’ 44th President, in turning that epic page in the long, painful sojourn trekked by generations of Blacks before, it supposes one to wonder, are African-Americans fully enfranchised now?

In the age of Obama, should black history be wholly embraced as bonafide American history?  And if so, with the majority of Blacks in America still being working class or poor, and the majority of Africa’s black inhabitants being poor or essentially starving, how can humanity bridge the economic divide, without first confronting the 2010 digital divide?  For in looking at the existing economics structures, what one tends to see is an unofficial worldwide policy of digital literacy for Whites and digital illiteracy for Blacks.

It is a social construct, however unintentional, effectively serving as the latest, most sophisticated, Jim Crow-type segregation for Black Americans and Africans, in some ways playing out as a de facto form of high-tech lynching, leaving no corpse, yet all the while resulting in intellectual and civic decay.

“Mec de Mystery: En Suite” by Max Eternity

Robert Fairlie, Associate Professor of Economics at the University of California Santa Cruz found in a 2005 study that while 85% of Whites have computer access at home, with 77% having broadband Internet access, comparatively 51% of Blacks have computer access at home, with 40% having broadband Internet access.

Fairlie’s paper was appropriately titled “Are We Really a Nation Online? Ethnic and Racial Disparities in Access to Technology and Their Consequences”, and sadly since written, not much has changed.  As in December 2009, the Internet Innovation Alliance, which describes itself as a broad-based coalition of business and non-profits that aim to ensure every American access to the critical tool of broadband Internet, presented data from a national survey showing that less than half (42%) of African-Americans use the internet regularly.  And yet in that same survey, conducted by Brilliant Corners Research, three in five (61%) strongly felt that households with Internet access have greater access to commerce, education, health care, entertainment and communication.

“Mec de Mystery: Hierarchy” by Max Eternity

These studies represent what’s happening in the US.  So one can only imagine how exponentially worse it is in Africa.  Of this conundrum, the world’s most venerated elder statesman, Nelson Mandela, said the following about this trend of digital discrimination:

“In the twenty-first century, the capacity to communicate will almost certainly be a key human right. Eliminating the distinction between the information-rich and information-poor is also critical to eliminating economic and other inequalities between North and South, and to improve the life of all humanity.”Nelson Mandela

So how can the landscape of enfranchisement be transformed, so as to make way for digital liberty and justice for all, and what role might the arts play in creating equanimity?

“Mec de Mystery: Looking In” by Max Eternity

First Lady, Michelle Obama, is doing her part by sometimes using her speaking engagements to advocate for the greater funding of art programs in public schools.  And since her husband, President Obama, is known for comparing himself to President Lincoln, and many of his admirers compare him to President Roosevelt, might the first and most logical step to electronic equality be for our digitally-savvy, Nobel Laureate President to take it upon himself to institute a digital interpretation of Roosevelt’s Works Projects Administration? Using his lofty, Lincolnesque oration, the President could rally digital and new media artisans to paint, sculpt and dance the nation into a new era of prosperity–paving the way for a broad expansion of digital equality.

Is this wishful thinking…perhaps?

And yet there is no denying that art and design have always been the premiere tools for communicating complex ideas simply, effectively uniting a group toward a single aim.

In this century, the same can be said of Flash, HTML and the Internet.  Adding to the mix, blogging and online social networking, the dynamics of all foretold illustrates that as the earth’s populations continues to grow, the intersection of each localized narrative becomes increasingly intertwined, with digital technology being at the heart of it all.

The way people relate has certainly changed over time, and yet civic engagement remains at the core of every thriving society.  In today’s digital surround, a sense of electronic enfranchisement translates to urban health and communal wealth. Thus however effectively a municipality addresses the issue of digital literacy truly makes the difference between who thrives–who survives–who dies.  Hence in a broader more inclusive sense of democracy, putting Blacks and Whites on the same footing while also addressing the obvious brick and mortar concerns, a sensible approach to building social capital–elevating the overall health of the cosmopolitan experience–should include abundant access to digital opportunities; particularly as it might relate to those underserved.

But Ipods are not falling from the sky, and Mimaki printers, Wacom tablets and Blackberries are not magically blooming around our feet.  These things cost money, requiring capital and human investment to teach and practice the ins an outs effective use, which brings to mind a line from one of one of America’s most exalted Negro spirituals, “We Shall Overcome.”  For if we are to remain a nation without a committed, institutional policy for digital equality, how much will it matter that an African-American is in the White House, if Blacks are still singing “We Shall Overcome”, instead of proudly proclaiming “Yes We Overcame!”

Close the digital divide now.

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“Mec de Mystery: I, You, Thee” by Max Eternity

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Max Eternity, Editor and Publisher to Art Digital Magazine and contributing writer to Artworks Magazine, is a polymath who creates innovative print types reflecting the Bauhaus and Mid-Century Modernism.  Via a network of informational web portals, Eternity advocates for artistic and social concerns ranging from architectural preservation and digital literacy to government transparency and the Afro-Euro fine art construct.  An avid inventor, he currently has over a twenty utilities in various stages of development.

Ursula Freer: Electronic Explorations

In Art, Feature, Interview on January 9, 2010 at 12:53 pm

“Petals and Branches”

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One of the most interesting aspects of digital technology in the civic arena is the way in which it has redefined the nature of communication, business and socialization.  In the arts community, with the employ of the Internet, more and more creatives are taking to the web, operating webpages and online galleries very much in the same way they might have otherwise presented their work in a traditioinal brick and mortar gallery space.

Because the Internet is such a flexible medium, creative freedom is closer at hand, allowing for a broader range of work to be developed and shown.  This often means that artwork which would otherwise have a difficult time getting ample wall space in a walk-in gallery, can get the attention it deserves, without apology or regret.

Ursula Freer’s work is a true embodiment of this radical shift in thinking, creating, exhibiting and selling.   And yet, while fully embracing the new technology, Freer has also kept here feet firmly planted on the ground, weaving the naturalistic and the futuristic with symbiotic wonder.

A century ago, when inventions like the telephone and automobile allowed humans the freedom to go places they could never have traveled before, the Internet and other forms of digital media now facilitate that same role, allowing electronic explorations to destinations unseen–unknown.

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Electronic Explorations

An interview with Ursula Freer

by Max Eternity

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“Eclipse”

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ME:  Hi Ursula, welcome to AD Mag

UF:   Glad to be here.  Thank you for taking the time to speak with me.

ME:  It’s my pleasure.  Now, I discovered your work when I came across an article I was researching, written by Joe Nalven.  The website is Digital Artists Guild (DAG).  Joe and I have since corresponded via email and will hopefully continue to do so.

In the course of delving deeper into the DAG site, I was able to see the artwork of many artists, including yours.  So, what’s the relationship there, how did you get involved with that organization?  How did you meet Joe?

UF:  When I lived in San Diego years ago I met a wonderful digital artist, Renata Spiazzi. I was entranced by the art she was making on the computer. She is responsible for my switching to the digital medium. Years later after I had moved to Santa Fe, Renata began to work with Joe Nalven who created the Digital Art Guild, (www.digitalartguild.com). I entered some of the shows the guild was organizing.  Joe then asked me to do an article for the guild.

“February”

ME:  But unlike many other artist using digital technology to paint with—that being their first introduction with artistic tools—your history is quite different…isn’t it?

UF:  That’s true. Up to that time 14 years ago I used brushes, paints and collage.

ME:  Could you tell us a little about your background, where you grew up?

UF:   I was born in Poland (now Ukraine) in an idyllic country setting. I grew up spending my time wandering in the adjacent forest and rolling hills where I felt safe and comfortable.  There, I remember the excitement when exotic gypsies would camp on our land. I loved to watch them dance and have my father join them on his violin.

“Reef”

ME:  And what was the first artistic experience you remember having.  Perhaps it was a circumstance involved that sticks out in your mind?

UF:   I don’t remember a particular instance but I found myself drawing animals before I was of school age.

ME:  What do you think is happening right now in the art world, that is, in the context of art and technology?  Which, by the way was a concept—a declaration—that Walter Gropius of the Bauhaus made nearly 100 years ago when he said “Art and Technology: A New Unity.”  How do you see this unfolding?

UF:  I see it now in the artists’ use of the digital medium, film and electronic music. It’s only natural that technology, which is a huge part of our lives, would become integrated in many forms of art. I expect that holography will eventually become a tool of artistic expression.

ME:  So let’s talk a bit about some of your specific art pieces now, there are two sets of artwork that I’ve seen of yours, the first at your own homepage and the second at the DAG website.  In regards to your own website, there are several pieces that capture the imagination like “Vision” and “Starcluster 2.”

First, if you would, tell us about “Vision.”

“Vision”

UF:  Fractals hold a special fascination for me. They bring to mind an eternal order and universal beauty that organizes the apparent chaos in nature; a fleeting insight into the structure of the micro and macro of our worlds.

ME:  And about the other, “Starclusters 2”, what’s the story there?

UF:  It’s a beautifully designed blueprint of a star system in the expanse of space. It seems to be mysteriously structured to resonate an appeal to us, perhaps evoking our deeper commonality with the cosmos.

“Starclusters 2”

ME:  Now let me ask, would I be correct in suggesting that you have a deep interest in both the natural and super-natural, as it were?

UF:  They seem to be opposites, but I am fascinated by both. I am curious about the totality of  human experience of the Universe.

ME:  I also see a re-occurring “circular” theme in your imagery…tying by sets of paintings on each site.  Could you talk about this a bit?

UF:  Until you mentioned it, I was not consciously aware of using it often! It’s a pleasing shape with so many meanings, evoking all positive emotions–nurturing, inclusive, unifying and infinite.

“Ocean Sonnet”

ME:  So I’m looking at a piece you created entitled “Four Seasons.”  This image, one you’re newer pieces, is posted on the DAG website as part of an essay you wrote there called “Zen and the Art of Digital Imaging.  Thus for instance, when you say “I am curious about the totality of human experience of the Universe” does that imply that you are also interested in things like the forests, the earth’s rotation in the cosmos or perhaps even organic gardening—in addition to art?

UF:  Very much so! Plants are as mysterious and miraculous as distant stars and so are microorganisms and subatomic particles.

ME:  I understand you’re also involved in the ASCI: Art and Science Collaborations Institute?

UF:  I became a member of the Art & Science Collaborations, Inc. a few years ago. The support provided for technology-based art is important to me. It keeps me informed of  important science/art events and the work of other artists. ASCI was one of the first art-sci-tech member organizations in the USA. Established primarily as a network for artists who either use or are inspired by science and technology. I am also a member of the local Santa Fe Forum for Science and Art, a group similar to ASCI but on a much less ambitious scale.

“Four Seasons”

ME:  And you’re currently exhibiting in a show “Mysteries in Science” at the NY Hall of Science? What’s the name of the work(s) you’re exhibiting and how did this all come about?

UF:  ASCI organized this as their Annual International Digital Print Exhibition. The title of the show inspired two pieces: “Parallel Universes” and “Multiple Dimensions.”  I am very pleased to have been accepted in this exciting exhibit.

“Multiple Dimensions”

ME:  Of course when one thinks of outer space and cosmology, the issue of possible alien life must be acknowledged.  Where do you stand on this?  Is there intelligent life “out there?”

UF:  I have to restrain myself to stay within the narrow meaning of the question.  It would be simpleminded to assume that we are the only intelligent life form in the vastness of Space as the estimated number of planets are in millions of billions. Our galaxy alone is believed to have 210 sextillions planets.

“Parallel Universes”

ME:  In closing, I’d like to ask about a work you did entitled “Fly by” that appears to be a digital assemblage incorporating photography and electronic paint.  This piece seems to characterize a complete synthesis of your overall themes of electronic paint–nature, animals, spirituality and the circle.

UF:  The technique of “Fly By” is precisely as you describe. Photos of birds are combined with that of a Cathedral. Even though I don’t paint with traditional media any more I still like the slow meditative process of “painting” with my digital brush to add character and texture to the image. I like to combine dissimilar images and backgrounds. This method evokes a feeling of space and timelessness. Here the circle denotes wholeness and unity of the artifice of man and the fluidity of nature.

ME:  Ursula, thanks for taking the time to speak with me.

UF:  Thank you for your interest in my work.

“Fly By”

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Visit Ursula Freer online here and here