[ISEA2011] Panel: Beth War­shaf­sky – A Lay­ered Process: Lyri­cal Im­pro­vi­sa­tion

Panel Statement

Panel: The Big Bang of Electronic Art: Merging Abstraction and Representation in the Age of Digital Imaging

As a young poet turned painter and print­maker, I learned to paint at a time when my teach­ers wor­ried that “paint­ing was dead.” Dig­i­tal media was not yet on my hori­zon, but I was sur­rounded by film-mak­ers who were also grap­pling with the for­mal prop­er­ties of their medium, in­clud­ing pic­to­r­ial, ab­stract and con­cep­tual form. While I never made films my­self, by the time I started to work on the com­puter, I was al­ready look­ing for some­thing. I didn’t know it was time, but there it was, cre­at­ing a space for trans­for­ma­tion and a struc­ture for lay­er­ing all kinds of con­tent. Work­ing in the mid 80’s in the emerg­ing world of cable and broad­cast graph­ics, I was in­tro­duced to new set of tools which lit­er­ally set my work in mo­tion. It was an “aha” mo­ment. I began to make what I called video/ com­puter tone poems. It felt right–, now I could paint, draw and work with pho­to­graphic im­ages as ma­te­r­ial, through many more lay­ers of process. I was still feel­ing like a painter but think­ing like a print­maker. Sud­denly, I could in­cor­po­rate im­ages from my own life or the media, and com­bine it with ab­stract, painterly ges­tures. Sound be­came an es­sen­tial part of my work, and I started a long col­lab­o­ra­tion with the com­poser Gerry Hem­ing­way. This in­ter­play be­tween sound and image, tex­ture and form, is a nat­ural im­pro­vi­sa­tion.

  • Beth War­shaf­sky works across mul­ti­ple media, syn­the­siz­ing words, move­ment, photo-im­ages, dance and sound. She is par­tic­u­larly in­ter­ested the cor­re­spon­dences be­tween vi­sual and kines­thetic form, ex­plor­ing the amor­phous bound­aries be­tween phys­i­cal and dig­i­tal space; and still and mov­ing medi­ums. Much of her work fo­cuses on sub­jec­tive ex­pe­ri­ence, hy­brid lyri­cal forms and vi­sual music. Beth’s art­work has been shown at SIG­GRAPH; Imag­ina, France; Fol­low the Sound Jazz Fes­ti­val, Antwerp, Bel­gium; The Tricky Woman An­i­ma­tion Fes­ti­val, Vi­enna, Aus­tralia; The BITT Fes­ti­val, Seul Korea, The 9th Korea Ex­per­i­men­tal Arts Fes­ti­val; Thee Mad­Cat Film Fes­ti­val; The 5th In­ter­na­tional Dig­i­tal Art Ex­hibit and Col­lo­quium in Ha­vana Cuba; and in group shows in New York, ,Con­necti­cut, Lon­don, Brazil, Is­rael, Korea, Ohio and Wash­ing­ton State. Beth teaches at Pratt In­sti­tute and NYU, US.

Full text (PDF) p. 2543-2545