Galleries: Art and Technology Converge in University City
By Edith Newhall
For The Inquirer
For those who missed the news:
The Esther M. Klein Gallery at the University City Science Center is now operating under a program called Breadboard, whose mission is to “convene communities around creative applications of technology.” Hence, the EKG’s latest exhibition, “Machinato Causa,” a collaboration among Breadboard, the Center for Emerging Visual Artists (CFEVA), and NextFab Studio, a technology workshop and prototyping center at the Science Center. The shared project began last summer when Breadboard solicited proposals from CFEVA’s artist members for a six-week residency at NextFab, asking them how such an opportunity might help them to streamline their art-making processes. Artists chosen for the program would be expected to exhibit their NextFab works together at EKG after completing their residencies.
Do you really need to know all this to appreciate “Machinato Causa”? Not really, though the gallery should have mounted wall texts saying which of NextFab’s state-of-the-art tools helped to realize the works of the exhibition’s three chosen artists. (NextFab, of which any artist or designer can become a member, offers the use of a laser cutter, a VersaCamm vinyl printer and cutter, a CNC plasma cutter, a digital embroiderer, and various other machines.)
Clearly, Laureen Griffin used quite a few of NextFab’s tools in her installation, “Beauty Revisited: An Ongoing Series of Settings for the Artist’s Gender Portraiture Project,” which includes a room covered with wallpaper of her own design (what appears to be digitally enlarged photographic images of a city street and the parlor of a house) and some furniture, including a lamp with a shade printed with photographic images of butterflies – a contemporary twist on Tiffany. Griffin’s photographic portraits of people of various gender identities seemed not to have been the products of any advanced technologies.
The main gallery space was given to Marisha Simons and Peter Hanley, who worked collaboratively on cut-paper forms suspended from the ceiling. I’d like to have known the technology that allowed the lights inside these pieces to dim and brighten and change colors simultaneously, but I appreciated their fragile, alien presence nevertheless.
Esther M. Klein Art Gallery, 3600 Market St., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. Information:
215-966-6188 or www.breadboardphilly.org. Through Jan. 2.