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"Technology as Hands": New Pop-Up Show at Sky Gallery

Fiercely Curious held the opening reception for its latest pop-up show, Technology as Hands, last Friday, October 3rd, at Sky Gallery in Gowanus. The show, curated by organizer and one-half of the Fiercely Curious duo Erin Przekop, features thirty Brooklyn-based artists and makers whose work is united by a common theme: technology.

In many of the pieces on display, the “technology” motif is rendered explicitly as the subject of the work. Husband-and-wife artistic team Chris Klapper and Patrick Gallagher built a countdown frame to express the transfinite number π using digital graphical and video editing software. Driven to “creat[e] digital art [that plays] on the usage of data as both medium and representation”, this information-based sculpture is one of multiple works the couple have on display.

Dan Wonderly also explores technology-as-subject in his new digital photography series, Digizombs (defined as “human being[s] under the influence of mobile digital technology, with overexposure often resulting in a comatose, zombie-like state”). The ongoing series is an attempt to highlight, understand, and provoke introspection regarding our relationship with technology and its effect on our relationships with each other. The people in the photographs are outfitted with ocular units, and captured in a state of enthrallment, utterly disengaged from the world around them.

Joe Silver and Justin Horowitz, who together make up Westkill, are the creators behind the art deco–style screen-printed clocks mounted in the middle of the gallery space. These pieces, which are linked with technology both aesthetically and functionally, were created using both 90-year-old mechanisms for time-keeping, as well as more modern tools to carve out the wood and print the screens used for the design. In the digital age, “the artist’s imagination is no longer bound to the location they are from and the places they have been”; as a result, Westkill’s pieces draw from all different influences, creating “a tension in the composition that keeps the piece interesting, time after time”.

Painter Dana James’ studies in abstraction hint at her understanding of and feelings toward technology. In Cassette and Transient Pool, James examines what she perceives as a dichotomy between nature – truth – and technology – manipulated truth: “The imagery of water in coalescence with technology is a narrative of this dichotomy.” Her commentary on the “zombified” state induced by our excessive use of technology is expressed in a larger-scale piece entitled Red Breather, in which “a supernatural light is breathing through a horizon line, such as when the television breaks in and out of power”.

Many of the featured artists explored innovative means of using technology in their creative process. In Peaks to Rise, Sara Mejia Kriendler used discarded pieces from defunct technology – printers, computers, calculators – to create reliefs and shapes on foam board. The sculpture, arranged as three side-by-side panels, depicts fictional landscapes that “refer to ancient forms of writing and relief sculpture while responding to our brave new touchscreen and e-waste world”.

Artist Susan Weinthaler’s Thrive was created using a method she discovered online, which involves the usage of a vinegar solution and a car battery to make unique etchings into metallic cylinders she calls “bits”. Each “bit” is outfitted with a magnetic backing and mounted on a steel canvas with numerous others, each with a different design. Weinthaler encourages her work’s viewers to engage with the piece, and explore its infinite possible arrangements.

Also on display is the work of abstract painter Emily Church, who utilized her iPhone to capture the initial images she used to create her New York Is My Temple series. Drawing from the inspiration she finds in her everyday environment, Church first prints the photographs on Kodak paper, then paints over them with acrylic medium in a fashion that is like “meditation”, with no agenda in mind: “The image that emerges reveals itself to be what lay behind my initial intention upon capturing the photo. The finished painting becomes … a distortion of ‘reality’ that allows me to step into the space of art.”

Fiercely Curious utilized every dimension of the space at Sky Gallery, from the floor to the ceiling, to showcase the artists’ work. Two large photographs by Ryan Frank, presented as hanging overhead fixtures, force us to interact with his work in unusual, non-traditional ways: “How photographs are viewed and experienced is the focus of my work, and my practice integrates images within objects, both found and handmade, tangible and experiential.”

Many of the works on display are creatively arranged with respect to one another. Pieces by Black Table and BTW Ceramics, for example, are forced to interact in a manner they may not have otherwise done.

Closing reception for Technology as Hands is Friday, October 30th. Visit Sky Gallery to meet the featured artists, who will be onsite that evening with works-on-paper available for sale.

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