THE INTERNET- A MAGIC CARPET OF ART
By Dr. Rodney "Pygoya" Chang
webmaster & cyberartist of www.lastplace.com
I thank East Hawai'i Cultural Center for providing me the opportunity to curate my second exhibition of global "cyberart' in a physical exhibition space. The first was back in 1999 at the Oxford Gallery in Calcutta, India.
Since 1997 I have also installed over fifty digital art exhibitions online in my virtual art museum, Truly Virtual Web Art Museum. By "virtual" I mean art presented only on the Internet and not prints like in the show at East Hawai'i Cultural Center. In essence, this art is of the Internet and as such, is its own visual "cyberculture."
My procedure for "curating" a digital art show is to search the Internet for imagery with fine arts quality that represents well the country in which the artist resides. I am fond of calling the digital, "cyberart," if that work is only available on the Internet and not printed for down-to-earth uses. For EHCC's show, there are 24 images representing work created in 21 countries. Three are American, including my work to represent Hawai'i, and two artists from Germany. As part of the exhibit a computer will display the online images as an ongoing "slideshow," making possible the interesting comparison of framed prints with the original online virtual images.
Some of the works were selected because of their strong sense of place. "City Stars" by Cynthia Fredrick of North Carolina captures a mystical feeling of inner city life - from the perspective of a stray cat! You can almost hear the bongo rhythms of the night in "La llamada" by Alejandro Silveira of Uruguay. These evening song and dance performers are descendants of original African slaves brought centuries ago to this small South American country. If the interior environment of "Old Pub" by Nonbe of Japan is "old," how much progress have we here in Hawai'i made at high tech integration into our contemporary Hawaiiana? Then there's the Yugoslavian architect who makes the loneliest and eeriest scenes that I have come across on the Net, such as the displayed "Big Room."
Like color like other locals, blessed to live in this rainbow speckled landscape we call Hawaii? Then you'll enjoy "A Star is Born" by Karin Kuhlman of Germany. I wonder if we have such an orchid variety here in Hilo! From another tropical island, this one in the Caribbean, Fernanda Steele's cyberart flourishes with natural activity, melodic to the eye, completely concealing the fact that all this is a creation of math-based fractal programming. Try viewing "Activity in the Forest' with your radio tuned to Reggae! Yours truly, Pygoya as known on the Internet, offers "Cyberwalk" for the show. The piece bridges my sensitivity of working with traditional art medium with the digital, while capturing a sense of place, as suggested by ceramic and lava-like textured surfaces, endowed with warmth from convincing natural (but actually computer faked) light. "Amazing Instrument" by Joeser Alvarez of Brazil provides the sexiest entry of the show. Hanging, filled sac-like objects, although mere simulations of the computer, tease our subliminal limits of sensuality. Associations abound and tantalize our imagination with this picture suspended between illusion and reality.
The spiritual springs forth with Spaniard Atman Victor's "The Inner Offering," demonstrating not merely the technical perfection achievable by computer graphic tools but also imagery impossible to conjure up with other art tools. Mariano Petit de Murat of Mexico, with his "Born Again" piece, contrasts embryonic calm with clonal manipulation which suggests an affect on the developing fetus's mind. More calming is "Bead" by Hina Bhatt of India. The artist achieves a relaxing karma through the symmetrical balanced and translucent geometric forms. "Rouge et noir" by Panda Gielen of Holland combines the power of the Mandela with rudiments of shield-like, medieval adornment, seemingly reflecting effectively, timeless rays of our eternal sun.
September 11th changed our lives forever. Artists cannot help but reflect their world and so many have executed works with the horrific events of this date as artistic content. Jonathan White of New York City, with his "Downtown, USA," has the Twin Towers still standing, and bathes the Manhattan skyline with benevolent, golden light. But instead of a naturalistic sky, the American flag gloriously shrouds the buildings, as if protectively blanketing the city from any imminent danger from above. Italian Alessandro Palmigiani makes a powerful yet simple metaphor by depicting the tragedies of Hiroshima, Chernobyl and New York as a group of "Poison Mushrooms." People around the world were shocked by the news and what they saw on CNN. This included Jens Erik Bygvraa of Denmark who "just had to" create his "Terometer" that depicts the terror of entrapment within the doomed towers and impending death. Although "3 Souls Waiting" by Australian Steve Danzig may not be a direct expression of September 11th, the ghoulish image of three bodies lying side by side suggest the nightmarish sudden lost of life, evidently victims of disaster.
Expressionists survive the 20th century and carry on within the digital realm of this new millennium, adding visual emotion to complement the billions of bits of text information on the Internet. Feel the raw pain in "Estranged" by Canadian Ansgard Thomson. A layer of primal colors are haphazardly incised, as if the result of a bout of sheer aggression, only to reveal yet another underlying layer, now vulnerable to further traumatic action. Contrary to this heated emotion captured in pixels is the universal appeal of soothing music. Colors in harmony, in key with rhythmic graphic lines, undulate across the staging of Korean Soonyoung Lee's "I Love Classical Music." Christa Nussbaumer of Switzerland prefers to work in a black and white etch or lithographic modality, extended with photo-digital manipulation. Her "Egoiste" captures the super egos of today's young people, all crammed in busy commotion, attempting to gain the spectator's sole attention. The late George Harrison is paid homage by Beatles fan Ingrid Kamerbeek of Germany in "He Is Gone." The piece is inspired with light from the hereafter. The physical starts to float apart into another dimension, all the time earth bound but in veiled mysticism, appropriate as the musician sought spirituality in India that inspired his music.
"Woman" by Marja-Leena Pelho of Finland confronts us with the new imaginary people born of computer graphics. Here the viewer is taken directly into the alluring blue eyes of a perfectly modeled young woman's face, surrounded by flaying vibrant golden red hair not unlike that of a majestic lion aroused. "Woman" depicts the realism soon to be attained by "avatars," the 3D characters programmed to interact within online 3D chatrooms and other virtual reality environments of the Internet. Another use of powerful computer graphic software is to render retroactive imagery of subject matter of simpler times, such as the table of arranged objects of a "still life." "Bread" by Pim Lindahl of Sweden captures the essence of oil pastels in such a digital approach. However, the use of electronic means creates more than a traditional art cliché', as the pixelated electronic light brings forth a novel rendition of past art medium's effect on our visual senses. Echoing yet another past period of art is "Estructura Oculta de los Pabellones" by Cuban William Borrego Bustamante. Although the arrangement of objects, including various posturing of the nude, makes a personal statement on the occult, the style is definitely of the Surrealism venue. Finally, my Russian friend, Catherine Yakovina, expresses her concern of "information overload" on the world's new and young generation, information that can also lead to the unintentional cloning of similarity and the lost of individualism.
This show was also compiled in anticipation of roving groups of Big Island children, bused to view international art. It is the hope of EHCC and myself that not only do the young "see" digital art as any other art medium, without the aesthetic prejudices of traditionalist artists and critics that came before them, but consider to learn to make it themselves. Through the diverse imagery and content hopefully they also see a commonality of artists around the world, no matter what country, to express and convey the human condition.
Get impacted by art of electronic means, unfolded before you through the magic of collaboration with the Internet! View the online exhibit catalog at it's permanently archived web site, www.lastplace.com/EXHIBITS/EHCC/ICE2002/ehcccyberartshow.htm.