Opening alongside Open Studios, the exhibition New Eyes for New Spaces curated by Francesca Sonara and Jess Wilcox presents works by Patricia Dauder, David Horvitz, Antonio Rovaldi, Austin Shull, and Hong-Kai Wang in collaboration with Anne Callahan, Brendan Dalton and Jordan Paul—artists who actively investigate, abstract, and fragment representations of place. Intervening with information culled from photographs, video, or sound recordings, these artists effectively focus viewers’ attention on the gap between what is seen and what is imagined. This exhibition unravels how technological advancements of the last ten years changed not only how we conceive of site, but also how we perceive it.
As technology develops to increasingly mediate our relationships with place and site, our imagination of locations near and far, diminishes. At first it was merely a plethora of guidebooks telling us where to go when we got somewhere. Then it was a flood of photo-sharing websites and blogs offering visual dialogues from every angle of an area. Now, it is Google Street View providing users regularly updated imagery from the streets of cities worldwide, helping them to navigate a new place with more ease than ever before. As we search for photos of the places we plan to go or confirm exactly where it is we are, the opportunity for wonderment, disorientation and fantasy is threatened.
As described by Walter Benjamin in The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, the tension between place and image has existed since the advent of photography. However, digital technologies (digital photography in particular) extend the distance between viewer and site as the process fragments the original subject into discrete units of information before re-presenting it as a whole. Paradoxically, while digital technologies convey information with greater accuracy, the coding inherent in these processes puts us at just one more remove from that which we are seeking to understand.