Saturday Night Fever: Digitally Mastered
By Anderson Martin
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While much of digital art is web based or net.art, the design and architecture communities push pixels into everyday experience. Architecture, possibly the most elaborate digital art form, is supple in the hands of Diller + Scofidio. As recent presenters at the Whitney Museum of American Art in a series of lectures on architecture, Diller + Scofidio are at the top of the heap after winning the coveted McArthur Foundation grant this year. This pair are poised to capture the crown again with "Blur", a pavilion being designed for the 2002 World's Fair in Switzerland. For "Blur", a set of tiered platforms several hundred feet wide and long will be positioned over a lake on structural stilts. Hundreds of jets will pump water from the lake up to the platforms, spraying a very highly dispersed, fine mist. A long rampway will connect to the shore where the mist will appear to have created a small cloud hovering just above the lake and hiding the platforms of the pavilion. B ut Diller + Scofidio will ask that before you walk up the ramp and into the cloud, that you wear a "Braincoat". Hey, they have your best interests in mind. The "Braincoat" will have a set of minuscule speakers in each lapel because the building will apparently have something to say. Blur will be wired and what is becoming known as a "smart building." Once on the pavilion your position will be tracked through a matrix on each platform and the CPU will instruct your "Braincoat" to murmur what Diller + Scofidio are calling "babble." If your mouth is dry from anticipation as mine will be, don't worry they thought of that too. The bar on the top platform will serve gourmet waters from around the world. No one will be allowed on the pavilion at night but Diller + Scofidio fully intend to use the "cloud" as a backdrop for film screenings in the evening.

Architecture may in fact have more in common with cinema in that it is a time based experience(http://www.timebase.org). Yet, an entire hemisphere of the digital art world is not characterized as time based. This includes 2-D design, typography, architectural models, digital imaging and the multitude of fine art media hybrids. A full assortment of these objects are represented in a show at the Center for Visual Art + Culture at Stamford University through November 17. The show, "Working Digitally: No Websites Please", curated by Saul Ostrow, attempts to frame a collection of works which are not web based, net.art.

Fabian Marcaccio, a painter well known in the eighties, has become a player through the nineties and into 2000, developing his signature style while collaborating with the architect Greg Lynn. His work in this show seems as fresh and relevant as ever, and just as formally transgressive as I had come to expect. The paint has been applied diffidently and yet skillfully over a stretched digital iris print of a nude woman. Greg Lynn is represented in the show by a sculptural mold he designed for the next Marcaccio/Lynn collaboration. The mold, a relic of the intended final piece is nevertheless a seductive object. The two halves lay side by side, mirroring the design etched into the other. Extremely fine terraces create depth and show the trace of digital inscription that no hand could ever produce. A Martha Burgess assemblage takes up a skylit wall and a Maureen Connor video of a woman's lips and lipstick plays on a small screen mounted into a free standing, antique makeup mirror.

All of these artists use digital media in some part of their process or to display their work. As the curator hints, these works have traditional media and the gallery as their context and possibly the grounds for their ultimate meaning. Still, it remains to be seen how the incredible talent of the art world transitions with digital media from the confines of the gallery apparatus, beyond the limitations of the web and into the lucidity that characterizes the Saturday night experience.



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