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Digital Abstraction and the Higgs Field at DVAC

January 19, 2015

Several new exhibitions opened at the Dayton Visual Arts Center this month, including Nathanial Smyth’s The Higgs Field in Pictures, a tiny office  show of paintings by David Kuns, collages by Jud Yalkut, and Digital Abstraction, a group exhibition featuring digital technologies in visual arts.  Featuring artists Tom Baggs, Benjamin Britton, Lisa Britton, Netta Bits, Wynne Ragland, Jr., Ansen Seale, Jim Shupert, Andy Snow, Nancy WIllman, McCrystle Wood, Sherman Walter Wright and Jud Yalkut, Digital Abstraction commemorates the 20th anniversary of Computer Art: An Ohio Perspective, an exhibition co-curated by Jud Yalkut and Tom Baggs at DVAC in 1993.


Wayne Ragland, Jr. “Digital Dreams,” digital print on fabric


Nathanial Smyth, “The Higgs Field in Pictures” detail

From the press release for Digital Abstraction: “Artists have benefited from the commercialization of digital technologies: computers (faster, smaller, multipurpose), software, video editing and production tools, printers, service bureaus (who can print on anything), book publishing (print and e-book), the internet (work from home, cloud tools), cell phones, and social media are now the daily fair for life in the future with the view from 1993.

From the glowing screens of computer monitors and camera viewfinder windows, the twelve artists in Digital Abstractions create and manipulate data just as a painter might mix paint on a canvas.

Ansen Seale, "Vortex no. 9," Slitscan photograph

Ansen Seale, “Vortex no. 9,” Slitscan photograph

As painters are inspired by the landscape (mundane or magnificent) and driven or haunted by the issues that bombard them, so too is the digital artist.  The digital camera now allows an artist to “sample” and “filter” their digital lyricism for our experience.  Tom Baggs, Jim Shupert, Lisa and Benjamin Britton, Netta Bits, Andy Snow, Nancy Willman all incorporate some aspect of the “seen” world in their “unseen”, non-objective or random realities.

McCrystal Wood, and Wynne Ragland, take the “unseen” experience and create realities of reference, challenging us to find a place in our minds where the “unseen” seems familiar.  Wynne remarked that his images are actually a return to the work he was creating during the first exhibition 20 years ago. “Think and wonder, wonder and think” (Dr. Suess) was one of the quotes of the “Paint Box” era, says Ragland.  Today the digital medium allows the artist access to the time when the work was fun.”

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Time, the medium in which all of our lives exist, becomes both the medium and message in the astounding work of Ansen Seale who both invented a new slit scan camera technology and used time to gather his vision into the fluid experience that his prints display.

The moving digital image will be represented by the installation works of Netta Bits (Tess Cortes) with her evocative shifting landscape juxtapositions and abstractions.  Walter Wright shares his experience in “Riverwalk” and a collection of video works by Jud Yalkut has been selected.”

Nathanial Smyth’s The Higgs Field in Pictures is a photo collage installation of incredible distortion.  From the didactic materials “Smyth’s recent work uses appropriation to examine how our culture imagines its icons.  For Higgs Field, hundreds or more images of the artist’s familiar Dayton hangouts are stapled together into a single structure which mimics the perceived shape of the Field.  The single combination of the whole mimics  the way our brain processes information and the way our minds understand the space we inhabit.”

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The exhibitions are on view through February 27, 2015. DVAC is located at 118 North Jefferson Street. A gallery talk for Digital Abstraction will take place on February 26 at 6:15 p.m.

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