SOMArts Cultural Center presents Electronic Pacific, a group exhibition that investigates the impact of electronic and digital communication on intercultural exchange. Local and international artists with connections to the Pacific Rim transform shipping containers into installation spaces to showcase time-based media and electronic communications as transitional cultural space. These containers symbolize the mercantile routes that have defined intercultural exchange around the Pacific for many years, as well as the way culture is conveyed, packaged, and disseminated. Exhibited works deal with mixed and transnational geography, the mutability of language, and multiplicity in individual and community identity.
Juan Luna-Avin depicts the punk movement as a cultural phenomena from the perspective of 60 Pacific Rim countries through a large-scale, conceptual cartography mural. Fragments of information, such as names of bands, characters, phrases, and dates, create a chaotic network of information addressing the reintroduction of punk identities and cultural history.
Jenny Odell, Lizabeth Eva Rossof and An Xiao explore notions of authorship in a digital age. Jenny Odell, a cameraless photographer, uses satellite images from Google Maps as a content source for her image production. Odell’s photo collages depict industrial objects of trade and transport around the Pacific extracted from their original surroundings and regrouped to create intricate, visual archives of similar objects.
Rossof communicates extensively through email and digital images with painters working in the replica production, commission and decorative painting industry in Xiamen, China, who produce her work. On display will be a series of 9, salon-style self-portraits in oil of each of the Xiamen artists commissioned by Rossof. Since many of these artists had never utilized their photo-realistic painting skills to create a self-portraits, the novel request forces the artists to grapple with new forms of representation and stylization, and to question the identity politics of the self.
Rossof also screens a 14 minute documentary featuring these 9 painters during the opening reception on Thursday, July 11, 6–9pm; screenings will begin every half-hour. Artist An Xiao, who draws ties between the movement and storytelling in the Lascaux cave paintings and the .gif, will also facilitate at the opening reception an audience-participatory installation “Grotte de l’Internetz” in which popular memes and internet images are translated into stencils and painted on rocks.
Samoan visual artist Vaimaila Urale traces family and cultural roots in the production of new media artwork. “Typeface,” a tattoo project, utilizes the history of traditional tattoo iconography to create all new text-based Polynesian inspired tattoos transposed into digital interactive artwork. Urale will design a set of real tattoos both permanent and temporary to be administered during the gallery opening.
Participating guests can retrieve their rocks and participate in a .gif creation workshop facilitated at a closing reception on Thursday, August 15, 6–9pm.
Lynn Marie Kirby, gal*in_dog aka Guillermo Galindo and Huang Xiaopeng focus on the intersections of language and the global economy. Guangzhou artist Xiaopeng employs Google translator tools to continually translate certain key phrases by Chinese politicians on the subject of globalization back and forth between target languages until the translation degrades to a poetic jumble, suggestive simultaneously of cohesion and degradation.
Xiaopeng also contributes a series of videos in which he features hip-hop artists pop culture references and soundbites translated between Chinese and English and vice versa, expressing in a playful way the unmooring of meaning and cultural signification through translation.
Lynn Marie Kirby utilizes salt, a shipping container and video to deal with language and the gaps in understanding created at the limits of technology. For Kirby, salt references the transition from a local to a global economy. The harvesting of this material traces a significant historical trajectory in the Bay Area landscape and California history, and mirrors a national trend of increased outsourcing, largely to Chinese mines.