State of the Art

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It’s easy to assume that the artistic effects of the digital revolution are limited to computer-based works, such as CD-ROMs and photography. However, the computer screen has begun to affect our sensibilities on a much broader level, in ways we are only beginning to ‘see’.

Curated by Kevin Murray, Offline is an exhibition of ‘handmade’ digital craft. Though produced through traditional means, the works on display reveal a digital aesthetic. What kind of digital aesthetic might embrace the material arts?

It has become almost a cliché of contemporary graphic design to include drop shadows and feathering. The surface of the work must be ‘soft’. One of the questions that Offline asks is the reason for this trend. Early digital graphics was criticised for being too pixilated; it looked awkward compared to the fluid media of wet photography and paint. Perhaps filtering is a reaction against this criticism? Maybe it has something to do with the end of the cold war and the blurring of ideological boundaries?

Meanwhile, back at the bench, there is a curious trend in the way surfaces are now being treated. This is particularly evident in the work now being conducted in unglazed ceramics. The surface of the vessel is now longer an alternative medium for images, it offers a very tactile visual experience.

The exhibition will feature ceramics by Pilar Rojas, Damon Moon, Jo Crawford, Stephen Goldate, Robyn Best, Susan Ostling, and Andrea Hylands. Other works that fit the category ‘soft hardware’ are Karl Millard’s textured metalware, Kathy Elliott & Ben Edols’ carved glass, and Mary Scott’s translucent images on glass. A copper-wire network by Nelia Justo provides the ‘hard software’ counterpoint to the other muted works. A textile interpretation of the Unabomber Manifesto from Chicago artist Gwendolyn Zierdt provides an opportunity to ponder whether nostalgia is the only possible way of looking at crafted objects.

To highlight the material quality of these works in an increasingly abstract age, the exhibition is maintained in the Jam Factory space as an ‘offline’ area—with no essays, labels or mobile phones. Visitors will be provided with a map and refreshments for their journey through the space. For those visiting the exhibition ‘online’, a memorial web-site will be set up with a database of lost objects in order to reflect on the decline of object in the age of data.

If nude objects offend, then please don’t go Offline.

This article was written for State of the Art, an arts magazine.

Page last edited 27/04/03