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New Experiments in Art and Technology
Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco, California
Review by Cherie Louise Turner

Vishal K. Dar and Gabriel L. Dunne, “NAAG XY,” 2015, multi-channel video projects, eps foam, palster, 160 x 102 x 50”

Continuing through January 17, 2016

“NEAT: New Experiments in Art and Technology” explores the Bay Area’s influence on bridging technology and science with the world of fine art. It features new or updated work by nine Bay Area artists: Jim Campbell, Paul DeMarinis, Mary Franck, Gabriel Dunne and Vishal K. Dar, Micah Elizabeth Scott, Scott Snibbe, Alan Rath, Camille Utterback and Paolo Salvagione. “NEAT" pays homage to a program that took place in the 1960s, “E.A.T.: Experiments in Art and Technology,” which helped define the genre of bridging science with art.

Notable for this show is that the artists did all of the work on their pieces, both the technical and the physical creation. For instance, Utterback did all of the computer programming for her piece, which involves a see-through screen hung mid-room from the ceiling, on which patterns and colors are projected. These change when viewers walk within a certain proximity to the work. The show also features a nice combination of approaches: the mechanical work of Rath and Salvagione; the video projections of Dunne and Dar, in addition to that by Utterback; works using light by Scott and Franck; the sonic pieces by Paul DeMarinis. Snibbe’s interactive work can be purchased as an app on your phone, which pushes the ever present “What is art?” discussion: Can an app be fine art?

It is also worth pointing out that the artists here span the age spectrum, from twenties to sixties. Several — in particular Rath, Campbell, and DeMarinis — are well-established pioneers in the field. And, finally, while the works vary quite a bit, they do all share a soothing meditative quality, as if the artists are instinctively showing how the subjects of technology and science, which are generally seen as cold or devoid of emotion, can actually have a very soulful, safe, even playful quality to them.

For a great preview of and greater insight into the exhibition, the museum also created an excellent digital catalog, which features essays, artist interview videos, stills from the show, and more; it can be accessed through their website at http://neat.thecjm.org

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