Museum of Arts and Sciences, Macon, GA
September 12 - November 2, 2008
Documented by Craig Coleman

Curator's Statement:

In the history of Art, Science and Technology have played an important role by introducing new ideas and inventing new tools that have, in turn, caused significant changes in the Arts and in our culture. These new tools and ideas do not always replace older, more established, traditional ones. Often, they are integrated with pre-existing technologies and processes and help to generate new permutations and possibilities for creative acts. In fact, the merging of the new and the old is sometimes what leads to the invention of the inevitable, “latest” technology. This exhibition will look at the changes and developments computer technology has made to the Visual Arts and will attempt to address the following questions:

How have artists integrated the computer into their chosen mediums/disciplines?
In what ways does the computer help artists make works that are not possible without such technology?
What new uses for computers have artists discovered?
How has computer technology affected art made today?
How has computer technology affected our assumptions about art?

The artists selected for this exhibition were chosen from across the United States, in keeping with the questions above and looking at how artists have embraced the use of the computer. A wide net was cast over the disciplines of visual art in order to see how ubiquitous the use of the computer is. The title for the exhibition (a play on words which comes from the “merge visible” option in the layer palette of Photoshop) is meant to be associated with the idea of merging the computer and other art making tools, both analog and digital, old and new.

Part of MERGE VISUAL deals with the merging of the computer and moving images, i.e. film, video. The Mark Smith Planetarium which features a 40 foot diameter, 27 foot tall dome was used in the exhibition to show works that use moving images and sound created specifically for this environment. The equipment available included 3 video projectors, 30 slide projectors, a star and planet projector, digital stereo sound system, LED cove lighting, and special effect projectors. All of these components are controlled by a computer that is programed by Toby Click, the Planetarium show designer. This immersive environment allowed artists to explore ideas related to simulation, virtual reality, spectacle, synaesthesia, lumia, micro/macro spatial relationships, surveillance. Many of these artists admitted that they were in “uncharted territory” but the spirit of crossing boundaries can be seen here in the merging of art and invention to create something new.


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