Chair Person: Cynthia-Beth Rubin
Presenters: James Faure Walker, Anne Morgan Spalter, Murat Germen, Beth Warshafsky, Nettrice Gaskins, Orhan Cem Çetin, Malcolm Levy & Anat Pollack
One of the most profound transformations of the electronic age is the changing relationship of representational imagery and abstraction. Once inexorably bound to painting, the advent of photography made it the medium of choice for documentation, a split which in turn freed painting to prioritize formal elements over representational content, creating a vocabulary of meaning derived from color, form, texture, and gesture, and setting artists down a path that eventually culminated in Abstract Expressionism. When digital imaging developed, early commercial developers of software envisioned that this split would continue, but this was hardly the case for the early software artists, working in the days before easy scanning and digital photography. As they “painted” into the computer, they found the same unique qualities of repetition and iterative transformations that their programming colleagues found just a few years earlier, as well as the ability to add gestural expression. Over the slow decade in which scanning and digital photography gradually became available to artists, early digital artists took the next step of integrating photographic content, jumping seamlessly from PhotoMac to PixelPaint and back again, even if it took years for the software companies to catch on. As digital imaging becomes the ultimate recombinant medium, artists are now digitally painting with photographs as another element in their work, just as they use color, form, and gesture. Imagine the artist in the digital studio, being able to can pick up a flat red organic form or an image of a building. In this context, the symbolism of the color “red” and symbolism of “the building” become similar elements – an artist chooses to use red because it causes spatial tension, or because it represents anger, or represents communism, just as the artist may use the building because it is a heavy rectangular form with pointy tops, or because it has a pattern of repetition, or because it references a known historic site or geographic location. Is this merger the gateway to both a new aesthetic and a new public engagement, as we integrate documentation of experience, cultural heritage, and science into our work?
- Cynthia Beth Rubin is a new media artist whose imagery evokes memories of culture, place. Digital for over 25 years, Rubin’s prints, moving imagery, and inter-active installations have been shown in the Jewish Museum in Prague, opening night of the both the San Francisco and the Boston Jewish Film Festivals, the Pandaemonium Festival in London, Lavall Gallery in Novosibirsk, and diverse venues around the world. Awards include multiple Connecticut Commission fellowships, the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, and the New England Foundation on the Arts, as well as a residency at Vidéochroniques in Marseilles and other international residencies, . Rubin works independently and in collaboration, and teaches part-time at the Rhode Island School of Design, US.