January 17th – February 23rd, 2020
Co-curated by Drew Austin and Mark Amerika, Brutal Realities exposes how contemporary artists confront their shifting nature of reality in digitally mediated culture. This manifests through various artistic mediums but focuses on artists working in the field of new media art. Presented primarily through video, sound, animation, photography, performance, and digital manipulation, the exhibition features artists who have shown their work nationally and internationally, all of whom have developed their work while living in Colorado.
Each artist in the exhibition brings their unique style of manipulating data to form a different approach toward the precarious cultural and political situation we find ourselves in. Some of the artists choose to use humor and post-internet parody to send a direct message, while others use abstraction, movement, and color to evoke an emotion or line of inquiry. Throughout the exhibition, viewers get critical insights into a world mediated through technology. Brutal Realities invites you to question the world around you and rethink what it means to be alive at a time of global climate crisis, cross-generational existential angst, and information overload.
Images by Lauren Click
Brutal Realities - McMahon Gallery
The McMahon Gallery features a group exhibition of work from current and former faculty, graduate students and staff affiliated with the University of Colorado’s TECHNE Lab as well as the partners and instructors that have helped maintain it for nearly 20 years. New work is presented alongside near prophetic work from the past decade, all following a common thread where the artists use digital media processes to challenge our perception of reality in a world infused with alternative facts, Deep Fakes, data remix, selfies, spam, AI bots, and surveillance capitalism.
The TECHNE Lab is a practice-based research initiative in the digitally expanded intermedia arts and humanities. Founded in 2002 by the artist, writer and film director Mark Amerika at the University of Colorado at Boulder, TECHNE was one of the first digital arts and humanities labs headquartered in a major research university. The lab serves as an artistic hub between the Department of Art and Art History and the CMCI Doctoral Program in Intermedia Art, Writing and Performance. Many of the TECHNE faculty and graduate students who have worked and taught in the lab have exhibited and performed their work internationally and have started their own digital art programs at universities across the country. TECHNE artists participating in the Brutal Realities exhibition include Déesse (Françoise Duressé-Stimilli), Jon J. Satrom, Laura Hyunjhee Kim, Melanie Clemmons, Ryan Wurst, Rick Silva, Nicholas O’Brien, and Mariana Pereira Vieira. An exhibition of video and print works by TECHNE faculty affiliate Michael Theodore is also on exhibit in the Polly Addison Gallery.
The TECHNE Lab draws much of its inspiration from the 20th century avant-garde art and writing scenes and was known in the early 2000s as a hotspot for the evolution of a new art movement referred to as Avant-Pop. Since its founding, the Lab has hosted scores of nationally and internationally renowned new media artists and theorists and over the years has served as the educational home for hundreds of undergraduate students who create cutting-edge digital work across the multi-media spectrum.
Amerika, whose artwork has been exhibited internationally at venues such as the Whitney Biennial of American Art, the Denver Art Museum, the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, the Walker Art Center, and the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Athens, describes the TECHNE Lab as “a space for intermedia collaboration” and “an experimental art incubator that investigates future forms of new media art, everything from Internet art to transmedia narrative, live cinema performance, interactive installations, and virtual reality.” Amerika’s latest work of video art, MOOC (Introduction to Digital Art), is being released as an online-only contribution to Brutal Realities.
In the summer of 2018, a select group of current and former TECHNE Lab faculty and graduate students held two simultaneous exhibitions in New York City, and this exhibition brings the art back home to Boulder.
For more information on the TECHNE Lab, visit the lab website at art.colorado.edu
Déesse Zinsou Soulé is a multi-ethnic multidisciplinary artist whose practice explores and expands the limits of traditional media in painting and drawing through video drawing and painting, film, performance, oral storytelling, experimental sounds, digital printmaking, and sculptural installation. Her work is a meditation on the power of imagery and object- making to represent trauma and death and the state of the world as observed through the eyes of a woman of African descent. It draws on the esoteric spirituality and magic of her Beninese-Haitian- Jamaican lineage to address the politics and aesthetics of geographical and social displacement and the evolving realities of identity perception. She is interested in the politics and aesthetics of pain, the complexities of memory and place, identity, transnationalism, African Diaspora, Afro- Caribbean history, trauma, and displacement.
Déesse has participated in national and international residencies including the Yaddo Residency Program in the USA, where she was honored with the Donald and Genie Rice Filmmaker Residency Grant, the Hungarian Multicultural Center in Budapest, Hungary, and Sanskriti Foundation in Delhi, India. She was nominated for the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Grant Program, and was invited to perform at the Black Mountain College Museum & Art Center. Several publications have written about her work, including Art in America, and her work was featured on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). Her work, solo and in collaboration, has been exhibited in the Middle East, Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas, at institutions including the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art, Galerie Nord in Berlin, Total Arts Gallery in Dubai and the Cultural Foundation in Abu Dhabi.
Rick Silva was born in 1977 in Brazil and lives in Eugene, Oregon, where he is an Associate Professor and Director of the Art & Technology program at the University of Oregon. Silva received an MFA from The University of Colorado in 2007, and has since shown nationally and internationally, with solo exhibitions at TRANSFER Gallery in New York, Wil Aballe Art Projects in Vancouver, New Shelter Plan in Copenhagen, Interstitial Gallery in Seattle, and The Ski Club in Milwaukee. Silva’s projects and collaborations have been featured in festivals such as Sonar in Barcelona, Transmediale in Berlin, and Resonate in Belgrade.
His works and installations have been acquired by multiple permanent collections including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Borusan Contemporary Collection, and the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University. Silva’s work has been featured in WIRED, The New York Times, and most recently in Rhizome’s book Net Art Anthology.
Silva modeled the first of his birds in 2014, inspired by a copy of ‘Sibley’s Field Guide to Birds’ and his readings on multiverse theory. The ‘Silva Field Guide to Birds of a Parallel Future’ is a web-based video work consisting of 18 animations, 30 seconds each, accompanied by a short story by Claire L. Evans. Silva’s birds take flight over gleaming horizons with impossible geometries, flapping their wings with imaginary physics and stunning the viewer with beguiling colors and textures. silvafieldguide.comThe work can be viewed online, displayed as a single-channel seamless loop, or in a grid featuring the individual birds playing on loop.
Mariana Pereira Vieira
The series Self-Portraits documents a dark period during which I started to question transactional aspects of femininity and how the value of women can be commodified.
I grew up in a society with clearly defined gender roles: the value of a woman was a direct measurement of how attractive she was perceived to be. A woman was expected to take care of her appearance at all times in order to appeal to and compete for male attention. Women could be sexy, but not sexual. With the aid of cosmetics, women can control their appearance: transforming bone structure, the color and shape of the eyes, hair texture, skin color – redefining ethnical and racial traits according to what is desirable. The idea of beauty is sold in shining, glittery packages by influencers and celebrities.
These self-portraits are created by smearing different types of cosmetics on light sensitive paper; then stamping the paper with my body, documenting the contact between skin and product. The print is exposed by the sun anywhere between 2 hours or 2 weeks. The cosmetics interact with the light sensitive paper, the sun, and the elements. The paper is then processed in traditional darkroom chemistry to remove the cosmetics and to reveal the chemical interaction that occurred during exposure.
The resulting images are dark, rough, and unappealing, challenging the intended purpose of the beauty industry and revealing the hidden fears and anxieties exploited in women.
Mariana Vieira was born in Brazil and grew up in Central America. She studied photography at Georgia Southern University, where the darkroom became her second home. She relocated to Boulder to study at the University of Colorado, and has called the Rocky Mountain state home since then. Mariana has been featured in exhibitions at Anderson Ranch Arts Center, the Center for Fine Art Photography, and the Colorado Photographic Arts Center, among others
Melanie Clemmons is a new media artist and educator interested in the effects of technology on society, culture, and the environment. She makes videos, net art, installations, & VR experiences and performances. In addition to her gallery and museum work, Clemmons has collaborated with Zak Loyd since 2009, has worked on videos for fashion designer Brandon Maxwell and toured with Pussy Riot doing visuals during their first North American tour and has collaborated on several of their music videos. She is an assistant professor of digital/hybrid media at SMU in Dallas, TX.
In 2019 Clemmons had a solo exhibition at the University of Dayton’s Radial Gallery titled VIRTUAL HEALING & PROTECTION FOR/ FROM THE SICK INTERNET that considers how internet and new media technologies have the capability to both harm and heal. She showed her work in a special exhibition at The Other Art Fair – Dallas presented by Saatchi Art, where she also curated SMU student work and was recognized as a highlighted artist by Hypebeast, was interviewed by Sometimes Gallery for her piece on surveillance capitalism, and developed and performed a body of work titled SUPER CURE, which engages with the archetype of the witch as a queer, feminist voice necessary as an alternative to the patriarchy’s insistence on a positivist world view.
She has completed a digital artist residency at Welcome to My Homepage, and her work has been shown at HeK (House of Electronic Arts), Basel, Switzerland; CICA Museum Gyeonggi, Korea, the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Echo Park Film Center, Los Angeles; Aggregate Space Gallery, Oakland; UPFOR Digital, Portland; Gene Siskel Film Center, Chicago; TRANSFER Gallery, Brooklyn; Denver Digerati; Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art; the Museum of Human Achievement, Austin; Ex Ovo, Dallas; and many other DIY spaces and venues.
Audio/Video, 1920×1080, 2019
“O’Brien works with SketchUp: Google’s 3D modeling software which is celebrated for simplifying and democratizing 3D drawing. After importing models of archetypal American homes sourced from online repositories, O’Brien rotates, skews, twists and mutates these photorealistic structures into unrecognizable architectural shards. By taking us inside SketchUp’s interface we are able to witness the creative tension between the artist’s exploratory mouse gestures and the spatial restrictions imposed by the software.”
– Katrina Sluis
Nicholas O’Brien is an artist and researcher that makes video games, digital animations, and installations addressing civic history, urban infrastructure, and overlooked narratives of technology and labor. O’Brien has recently exhibited at Knockdown Center in Queens, LiMA Media Art Platform in Amsterdam, The Photographers Gallery in London as well as several online outlets like Keen On Magazine, Sedition, and The Creative Independent. As a past recipient of a Turbulence.org Commission funded by the NEA his work has also appeared or featured in ARTINFO, The Brooklyn Rail, DIS magazine, Frieze d/e, The Atlantic, and The New York Times. He currently lives in Brooklyn and is Assistant Professor in 3D Design and Game Development at Stevens Institute of Technology.
Laura Hyunjhee Kim is a multimedia artist who contemplates and reimagines digitally constructed on/ offline (non)human experiences. Thinking through making, she performs moments of incomprehension: when language loses its coherence, necessitates absurd leaps in logic, and reroutes into intuitive and improvisational sense-making forms of expression. Her current practice-based research projects explore emerging consumer technologies and their influence on human and (non)human interactions and feelosophical experiences of the body. Kim has shown work in numerous on/offline exhibition spaces, screenings, and festivals around the world. She received the inaugural ArtSlant Award in New Media (2013) and was one of the first artists-in-residence at the Internet Archive (2017). In 2019, Kim received the New Media Caucus Distinguished Scholar Award and published Entering the Blobosphere: A Musing on Blobs with The Accomplices / Civil Coping Mechanisms and Remixing Persona: An Imaginary Digital Media Object from the Onto-tales of the Digital Afterlife (coauthored with Mark Amerika) with Open Humanities Press. Kim received a B.S. in Art from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and M.F.A. from the New Genres Department at the San Francisco Art Institute. She is a Ph.D. Candidate in Intermedia Art, Writing and Performance (IAWP) at the University of Colorado Boulder’s College of Media, Communication and Information.
Video (single-channel), 2min 33sec, 2012
SHARING IS CARING (2012) humorously satirizes online platforms that encourage individuals to be more “personal” and “social.” The work takes the form of a pop music video, remixes found-gifs and memes into visual backdrops, and turns mundane news-feed stories into eventful lyrics. Speculating the ever-evolving relationships between online individuals and formation of virtual communities, the video focuses on language (social-media-lingo) popularized by social media platforms that incentivize certain types of human behaviors and interactions. Hence, “Re-post, re-blog, re-cycle your share.”
Laura Hyunhee Kim
Video, 5min, 2018
[Cheese Block]: An Intervention Without An Expiration Date That Matters (2018) speculatively brings attention to the broken promises of computer webcams. Despite the convenience of connectivity it provides, once webcams are hijacked, all the bits and bytes of our trackable offline existence is game for those who prey on our privacy and vulnerable physical activities. In resistance, “The Cheese Block” is a consumable, compostable, and cost-efficient malleable haptic interface that utilize cheese curds to help prevent unwanted strange webcam activities.
Jon J. Satrom
QTzrk opens with a shark jumping out of the ocean and quickly disintegrates into a cacophony of torn-apart digital assets, glitches, and samples. The interface of the player window becomes leaky and broken– giving way to a flood of murky data. The work exists as a video loop that documents experiments in abstracting the media and its player. Elements (broken players and non-rectangular video chunks) of the work were independently released–allowing remixes, reconstructions, and to challenge resolutions. The glitchy methods and bugs that helped create this work have since been “fixed” by subsequent MacOS® and QuickTime™ upgrades.
Jon Satrom is a kludge artist, a glitch aficionado, and a creative problem creator who problematizes technological structures, interfaces, and conventions. Satrom performs realtime audio/video noise and new-media, develops experimental artware, and organizes happenings around themes of misuse, failure, and digital agency.
Why Time? - Michael Theodore
For many years I’ve been deeply influenced by the musicians of the American experimental tradition, especially composers John Cage and Morton Feldman. Feldman has a work titled “Why Patterns?” that I’ve listened to hundreds of times. The pieces in my “Why Time?” series reference the expansive notions of space and time that Feldman made so vivid. Each of the pieces in my series depict flowing processes taking place in different imaginary spaces; these processes could easily continue forever, rolling along through streams and eddies. The videos capture a few minutes from these endless streams, while the stills are taken from precise frames of the videos, and are printed with a chromogenic process with silver halide photo chemistry.
Media artist and composer Michael Theodore was born and raised in New York City, and has lived in Boulder, Colorado for the past twenty years. Inspired by observations and experiences of both the mechanical and the natural world, Theodore creates dynamic fields of sound, color, and light in a large variety of mediums, including interactive kinetic installations and moving images. Theodore’s work has been presented across the United States, and in Mexico, Greece, Spain, Germany, Sweden, France, Australia, Japan, and China, and his artwork is represented by the David B. Smith Gallery in Denver, Colorado. Theodore holds faculty appointments at CU in the College of Music, and, by courtesy, in the CMCI IAWP program and the Department of Art and Art History.
Courtesy of David B. Smith Gallery
Unfolded - Annette Isham
My work recognizes gender, race, and geography and questions its relationships to identity. My work explores these dynamics by making and collaging video, building costumes and multimedia installations, and by developing and acting out narratives. My work enjoys the absurd and often layers moments of fantasy and reality, creating worlds that play with time and space.
Born in Dominican Rep and growing up in CO, my latest series explores associations to geography, more specifically, how a woman of mixed race appropriates the masculine, white, American West. I see my videos wedged in a crevasse, on one side a feeling of alienation from the American Landscape, and on the other, a need to compose a new narrative. The future feminine inhabits her landscape, is multi-colored and multi-dimensional, moving in and out of origin, multiplying and dividing. This work pays homage to duality, understanding it takes opposing forces to spark tension into being.
Annette Isham currently lives and works in Denver, Colorado. Isham received her B.A. in Studio Art at the University of Richmond and an M.F.A. from The American University. She was awarded a fellowship at the Hamiltonian Gallery in Washington, DC, where she has shown two solo exhibitions. Isham has exhibited nationally including Condition X at Westside Gallery in NYC and Man as Object, Reversing the Gaze at SOMArts in San Francisco. This last summer Isham exhibited her series, Among The Multitudes, at CURRENTS International Media Festival in Santa Fe. Isham has recently completed a residency at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass, CO. Currently, she is teaching Time-Based Media classes at Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design.
Outlandish - Hand/Rudy Gallery
Outlandish presents a collection of painted and photographic works from artists Regan Rosburg and Natascha Seideneck. Both interested in the minute details of the natural world, these two women present strikingly beautiful work with a bleak underlying message. The work lures the viewer in–exposing material, substrate, object–and slowly reveals that the creation of this work directly connects to the destruction of the natural world. Using waste products, such as plastic, oil, chemicals, as well as discarded objects from the natural world, both women look to the future at a world destroyed from the effects of today.
Full of fleeting moments such as the short life spans of native forest animals or the temporality of naturally occurring phenomena, the creation of the presented work is laborious and time-consuming. Regan employes a method of painting that requires built-up layers of plastic resin, constructing the images within the paintings one layer at a time and sealing the objects within the depths of the scene at the same time. Seideneck’s work requires frozen objects that she photographs as they melt, constructing the work before the work is even created. Seideneck also photographs the immediate world around her, finding moments of human intervention or evidence of human waste, and skillfully composes complex visually layered images that craft a visual narrative about the world we live in.
With both artists’ work in connection to each other, the viewer can feel the hope that radiates from each piece, yet at the same time feeling the deep pangs of guilt for having a hand in the creation of the events the work documents. While man continues to exploit the planet we call home, Outlandish seeks to give space to all–those who are just becoming aware of the climate crisis, those involved in helping combat it, and those looking for a place to mourn our worldly loses.
Regan Rosburg is an artist, naturalist and writer. Her work is founded in the principles of Ecopsychology, which she describes as society’s collective grief, environmental melancholia, and “collective social mania” (her term). Rosburg believes these issues manifest in a relentless loop of consumption, distraction, and unresolved mourning. She is also completely enamored by the beauty, intelligence and resilience of nature, and finds inspiration from combining art with science. She fervently believes that artists are a crucial voice in discussing climate change and human impact.
Rosburg is the Co-founder and Artistic Director of Cayo Residency in Eleuthera (Bahamas). She has conducted biology-based research trips around the world, including the Bahamas, Canada, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Thailand, the Washington rainforests, the Appalachian Smokey Mountains, and the Colorado Black Forest. Her 2019 residencies include the Arctic Circle (Svalbard, Norway) and the Oak Springs Garden Foundation (Upperville, VA).
Rosburg works in a variety of materials to blur the boundary between nature and culture. She is known for her increasingly complex 3D resin work that contains plant and animal relics, bones, insects, lace and painted imagery. Currently, Regan Rosburg is an artist in residence at Redline (Denver, CO), as well as the S*Park Visiting Artist for 2019/2020. She is represented by William Havu Gallery in Denver, Colorado.
Natascha Seideneck was born in Germany, grew up in England lives in Denver, Colorado. Her work is interdisciplinary, often engaging in experimental processes that integrate still and time based visual technologies. In particular she is interested in how land is surveyed and surveilled, within historical and contemporary contexts. Natascha has exhibited widely and produced numerous site – specific artworks, often collaborating with artists, designers and architects. She holds a MFA from Tufts University and is currently an Assistant Professor of Art at Metro State University of Denver. Natascha is a member of Tank Studios and recently was as a resident arist at Hangar in Lisbon, Portugal.