Peter Dornauf – 6 May, 2012
Bronwyn Holloway-Smith's objects, sperm whale tooth, adze, teapot, poi, Tapa beater, fish hook and others are life size forms built up from fine layers of glue laid down in small delicate strips during the process of manufacture. They present themselves as highly tactile yet prohibit touch because of their strange translucent ghostly nature.
Curated by Melanie Oliver
April 25 - May 16, 2012
First the military, then the artists and graphic designers. This is the story, the sequence in history of digital art that reaches back to the post-war period, the early fifties, at least that associated with early computers; Ben Laposky and his work on analogue cathode-ray oscilloscope for example.
At Ramp Gallery, Waikato Wintec, the current exhibition, Social Interface, curated by Melanie Oliver, explores that history by taking an eclectic look at various forms of the art, two of which directly engage the practice of audience participation, calling on elements of the social networking milieu and raising questions about communication, technology and control.
Ghosts in the Form of Gifts (2009) is the work of Bronwyn Holloway-Smith and comprises a number of ersatz artefacts (one is reminded of Francis Upritchard) but these are constructed using a process of drawing, digital 3D rendering then printing with a Rep Rap 3 dimensional printer. The resultant objects, sperm whale tooth, adze, teapot, poi, tapa beater, fish hook and others (replicas of artefacts imagined lost during the Museum of New Zealand’s move from the Buckle Street address to Te Papa) are life size forms built up from fine layers of glue laid down in small delicate strips during the process of manufacture. They present themselves as highly tactile yet prohibit touch because of their strange translucent ghostly nature.
These works involve the old trick of taking something recognizable, even perhaps banal and transforming it by changing its size or substance. One thinks of Pop artist, Claes Oldenburg. The kick here however is the comment implied in the generically Te Papa nature of the objects, reminding us of collection practice captive to the prevailing political, cultural and social operatives of the time. That Holloway-Smith has made her files Open Source, available for reuse through a Creative Commons licence, is a reflection on both the history of digital practice and of authorship itself.
Collaborative projects also raise the nature of creative practice and Vaimaila Urale and Johann Nortje in Typeface (2012) have done just that in their series of digital patterns of Polynesian mark making. The animation of tattoo and tapa marks sees the fusion of tradition Samoan art forms metamorphosed by electronic processes. Ancient art meets twenty first century technology, using in this case, ASCII, a form of graphic design. The results are short staccato lines of black, white and green in configurations resembling binary codes which are played out in front of the viewer on screen, accompanied by music that tracks both the movement and essence of the kinetic work.
Douglas Bagnall is the last member of this trio and his contribution to the project focuses on the music industry. His Music Industry Simulator (2003-2012) was conceived a decade ago via a digital artist in residency at Waikato University and involves an interactive online application, using computer algorithms to reflect the fickle nature of the music business. Mythical musicians create songs while demand, popularity and music charts are all controlled by software programmes abetted by audience assistance. Founded on chance, the music and lyrics have a strong Dadaist flavour. The same kind of lampoon and satirical bite is evident here as the simulator mimics commercial imperatives resulting in bland musical fodder for the masses while killing off innovative creation at the fringe.
Technology, communication, social network and the nature of art are all explored here with verve and panache as well as an eye to cultural frisson, industrial muscle and the interface between creator, viewer and institutional control.