In fact, you can see the video projection of this food-technology combination by multimedia artist Laura Hyunjhee Kim at the Dairy through Feb. 23. The multi-artist show — featuring work from grad students, current and former faculty and staff affiliated with University of Colorado’s TECHNE Lab — allows attendees to step inside a varied world of technological art that speaks to our past, our present and ultimately questions the direction of our future.
“It creates a whole narrative about why privacy is important,” said Kim, reflecting on her piece “Cheese Block: An Intervention Without An Expiration Date That Matters.” “We try so hard to protect ourselves, but eventually we will be exposed.”
Despite webcams offering a convenient way to communicate with virtual meetings, when they fall into the hands of hackers they can be used as tools of invasion.
Not taking her work too seriously, Kim is known for her zany Instagram videos that often feature her dancing with a variety of produce, including cauliflower and even kimchi.
On display, visitors can also see her music video montage “Sharing is Caring” that calls attention to various social media platforms many of us interact with daily. Rich with satirical wit and alive with colorful graphics, dance moves and singing, courtesy of Kim, it also makes a strong statement about how we as humans interact with each other within those virtual communities.
“I’m using language from social media and showing how those words have changed over time,” Kim said.
Post, link, share, tweet, like, pin, follow and subscribe seem to swirl around in a never-ending cycle on most platforms. With the absurdity of high-paid influencers and folks’ constant need to churn out aspects of their lives for others to comment on, the piece also speaks to the constant flood of information from which people can rarely unplug.
“I want visitors to make their own version,” Kim said. “What I do is very lo-fi. I speak about my experiences and I want them to feel like they can do it too. If you have a thought process you can figure out how to make sense out of your own world.”
“I’m tapping into the emotion of it,” Kim continued. “Looking at the purge and vulnerability that happens to a person on social media.”
The work of Melanie Clemmons, who did the visuals for Russian feminist protest punk rock group Pussy Riot’s North American Tour, can also be seen in “Brutal Realities.” In her “net art” piece, “Famous Men Who’ve Cried Online,” folks are taken on a journey to Mount Rushmore that seems to be covered by a melting pixelated curtain. Then the viewer is hit with the serene images of clouds and a display of stock images depicting men and women in office situations.
“For me, this exhibition is more visibly connected to the history of avant-garde art of the 21st century,” said Mark Amerika, “Brutal Realities” co-curator and founder of the TECHNE Lab. “We are aware of the history and we grow out of that. It’s always been about pushing boundaries set by whatever technology has made itself available. This is new terrain.”
The fascinating work “HERMAFRODEK” by Déesse — also known as Francoise Duressé-Stimilli — takes up an entire wall. The multi-media installation explores the future of race and sexuality in what the artist refers to as Digital Vodunism. Going a step further, to really intertwine herself with the offering, she has taken sections of her hair and included them in shadowboxes that also feature fertility-like statues — constructed from broken sculptures — with attributes of both sexes. These intriguing figures, suspended within copper-lined wooden boxes, are further complemented by two filmstrips that feature Déesse as a shapeshifter.
Screens display her paintings as well as up-close videos of her eyes — almost creating a feeling of the art watching the viewer take it all in.
“This type of art has been here and been nurtured,” Amerika said. “This exhibition brings in an artistic life in Boulder that sometimes gets overlooked or is undervalued.”
“We get to challenge the perception of reality from different angles,” Kim added.
In transmedia artist Ryan Wurst’s “Infinite Club,” viewers can see the Mouth Breathers — crimson colored clones — get down in a virtual dance hall or become inebriated. The music is provided by Soul Tangler — a pseudonym under which Wurst releases music heavily influenced by underground and DIY club culture. On the screen, onlookers may feel like they are watching a repetitive video, but the algorithm and artificial intelligence used to guide the Mouth Breathers makes it so they’re never doing the same thing twice.
“The audience in Boulder is used to taking in paintings, photographs and sculptures, but video work, abstract film and humorous parody of our current times are more difficult to translate,” said “Brutal Realities” co-curator Drew Austin. “We tried to explore a diverse range of mediums and brought in a lot of different viewpoints on the same subject, hopefully allowing for a larger sweeping audience to join in the conversation.”
Abstract dark-hued framed pieces — unlikely self portraits — by artist Mariana Pereira Vieira speak to the concept of gender roles, question traditional aspects of femininity and explore the idea of makeup being used to transform women’s appearances. Created by smearing a myriad of cosmetics on light-sensitive paper, Vieira then stamps the paper with her body. The print is exposed to the sun and later processed in traditional dark room chemistry to remove the cosmetics and reveal the chemical reaction that occurred during exposure.
“Boulder has a reputation for being open minded, but just because you are open minded politically does not necessarily mean you are open to radical art,” Amerika said. “This work has a whole other way of getting inside you.”
In Rick Silva’s web-based video work “The Silva Field Guide to Birds of a Parallel Future,” viewers can watched winged-creatures take flight, even morph into geometrical beings and soar amid vibrant landscapes complete with an ambient soundtrack.
“Having all these works displayed together is proving digital art processes are very much a part of the contemporary art world,” Amerika said.
While Amerika founded TECHNE Lab two decades ago, the programs it presents continues to evolve. Both Amerika and Kim have formed a new arts-based doctoral program — Intermedia Art, Writing and Performance — offering graduate students an environment in which to practice and research emerging forms of creativity within CU’s College of Media, Communication and Information. Students who enroll will have the opportunity to craft art in the vein of that which they see in “Brutal Realities.”
“I am hoping that the patrons will think a little differently about their world — both physically and digitally — when they leave the exhibition,” Austin said. “There is no direct message we want the viewers to feel, but rather to begin forming questions as they walk away. I want viewers to laugh at the work, to feel hope, sadness and strength from the work, as well as remain curious about how they live their lives each day.”
If you go
What: “Brutal Realities”
When: through Feb. 23
Where: Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder
Cost: free, donations encouraged
More info: thedairy.org