Honolulu Weekly, May 21-27, 2003

Photoshop Reloaded

An open-juried exhibition of digital art at Studio 1 elevates the form.


"Working with Photoshop, I became fascinated with the process. I begin with figures, primarily faces, and generally
push them to the edge of abstraction using filters and layers. Rather than pursuing specific results, I follow various
processes and sequences I have developed. The end product is usually unrecognizable from the original image. A
major part of the process is knowing when to stop." Speaking of his own work, artist Steven Rosenthal also provides clues as to the growing appeal of going digital – the seduction of the process, the manipulation of the imagery, the transformation of the visual experience. Add to that the fact that you can do things with this medium that cannot be achieved any other way, and the appeal is undeniable.

In the last few years, we've watched as island artists using digital media have begun to claim turf long held by both painters and printmakers while also trying to create an aesthetic terrain that was uniquely their own. It has to be said that early efforts were often lacking in distinction. (you be the judge  It must also be said that with this exhibition there is a clear sense of a core community of artists working with digital media that now constitute a substantial presence in the local art scene.

The Digital Art Society of Hawai'i (aka DASH) has sponsored Digitally Charged Entities 2003, an open-juried exhibition
selected by Peter Chamberlain, Victoria Gail-White and Sarah E. Bremser McCormick. The jury process brings a new level of professionalism to DASH that bodes well for that community of artists. The venue, at Studio 1 at 1 North King St., and excellent documentation for the exhibition contribute to that new status. The prospect DASH will make this an annual event is certainly welcome.

What does it mean to go digital? Clearly much of the work begins with photographic images that provide the starting point for digital exploration. In some cases the shift seems minimal, as in Joan Pabst Dubanoski's Taos Pueblo, a lean and angular study of architecture enriched by saturated complementary colors. In other cases, as in the work of Diana Nicholette Jeon, photographic images become the elements of complex digital collage. Jim Egan chooses an alternative path with a direct scanning process in Breadfruit, while Mark Welschmeyer's bold, large-scale works provide a link with established print media. 

Other artists have chosen a more abstract and painterly approach. Notable among then are Bobby Crockett, who continues to manifest an elegant sense of composition in Crossing Over; Saint Wayne, with a unique sense of atmospheric calligraphy; and Phil Uhl, whose work (including Dancing in the Dawn) manifests a new strength and coherence. In an environment of dominant color, Uhl's black-and-white studies constitute a bold move. Tom Shiu's Black Movement 2 and Carolyn W.Clark's Dream also suggest provocative fusions of media in the service of new ways of seeing. The artists in this exhibition know when to stop – and when to push further.

P.S. As a notable counterpoint to the DASH exhibition, don't leave without spending a few moments with the storefront
window exhibition of of works by Jacqueline Lee, whose sculptural explorations of book forms provide another perspective on the communicative properties of text and image.

Digitally Charged Entities–Studio 1 Gallery, 1 North King Street; Mon-Fri, noon – 4 p.m.; Sat, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.;
Sun, 9 – 6 p.m. Through 5/31. Free. 550-8701