[r2001 01342] my thoughts on CWB
Wed, 16 Sep 1998 23:46:53 EDT

Countries Without Borders, at Abraham Lubelski Gallery, was the third venture
out of cyberspace by Internet based Renaissance2001 artists. Forty five
artists from around the world sent work that was displayed in the two
galleries, which are located across the street from each other on Broadway in
New York City. The opening took place on a cool September evening in SoHo.
Groups of people filled the busy streets; shopping, chatting in coffee shops
or bars, and of course, attending openings.

Access to the Gallery, is via a cramped metal lift that slowly ascends to the
seventh floor. Guests are greeted at the entrance with a wall of information
about R2001 and the CWB show. The space beyond consists of two large white
rooms. The hardwood floors and tall walls of the gallery lend a stately
appearance to the professionally presented, diverse body of work that makes up
the exhibition.

The front room contains an interesting mixed media piece, computers displaying
digital art, and several groups of large paintings. The digital work, on one
of the computers, cycles through web pages chock full of mesmerizing motion
and color. This is the work of the shows curator and director Jolanta Gora-
Wita. The painters work displayed in this room focuses on abstract space.
Seiji Uoeka, Gerald OConnell, Jurek Kubina, and Aleksi Aaltonen confront
traditional concepts of painting by exploring the digital mindset and its
effect on their medium. Many of the paintings have restricted or
monochromatic palettes; some deal with the intrusion of the work into 3
dimensional space; while others examine multiplicity of image and the
minimization of narrative content.

An open space comprises the center portion of the gallery. The work in this
area includes a sound piece with several pen and ink drawings by Judith
Juntura Miller, as well as, two nicely crafted books of digitally created
images and text by Anne Eldredge Harris. The adjacent wall is adorned by a
large body print. As we enter the back of the gallery there is a cluster of
small, yet powerful, abstract charcoals by Japanese artist Yumi Matsumoto.

The second room of the gallery is where the refreshments are, guests mill
about sipping wine and discussing the show. The artwork here spans a variety
of mediums including: several examples of digital and traditional photography,
a well made found object assemblage by German artist Hans Kotter, and a few
paintings whose scale ranges from small to immense. Along the far wall of this
space is a video installation consisting of three TVs atop black pedestals.
The black and white images displayed document a series of collaborative
performances by ArtSite2000 that explore artificial restrictions and
boundaries imposed by modern life. The videotapes are set on continuous loops
causing hypnotic juxtapositions of images and sounds, filling the room with an
Orwellian aura.

The lights in the galleries front room are switched off for the final event of
the opening, a projected presentation of HTML and Java based artwork by R2001
members. A small crowd remains and gathers seated on the floor. The images are
simple yet direct. They move, slide or fade away only to be replaced by other
digital mosaics. This experimental work presents a glimpse of a new medium
that artists are beginning to use to explore color, narrative, motion and

With the conclusion of the digital presentation, the group of artists and
their friends close up and head off to "Wax", a trendy New York night club
around the corner from the gallery. Brawny bouncers stand outside, the place
is roped off, and like many SoHo clubs they pick through the crowd, allowing
only the hippest patrons inside. The gang from R2001 is shown in and we are
seated on low velveteen couches around tables of food, graciously prepared by
our hostess and her friends. The club is bathed in red and purple light, chic
New Yorkers, in stylish dress, dance, sip martinis, and puff on cigars. The DJ
is spinning music ranging from the Beastie Boys to the Gypsy Kings, quite a
mix! A seemingly endless supply of wine keeps flowing. The cigarette smoke
grows thick. Everyone is smiling, overcoming language barriers, and discussing
art. Seiji, the founder of R2001, takes out a sketch pad, does some quick
drawings and then passes the paper around. Others sketch as well, or laugh at
the caricatures of themselves in the drawings.

In a short period of time, a group of strangers with only a common bond based
on art and the Internet has grown to become a small international family. The
future is bright with opportunities. The technology will undoubtedly improve
making global collaborations such as Country Without Borders more accessible.
With this "do it yourself" spirit and a disregard for conventional wisdom,
there is nothing to stop R2001 from fulfilling its mission of creating a
global art community for the new millennium.