Screen and Décor

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© Courtesy of The Southern Alberta Art Gallery
Screen and Décor
Curated by: Rosemary Heather

601 Third Avenue South
T1J 0H4 Lethbridge
September 28th, 2013 - November 24th, 2013
Opening: September 28th, 2013 8:00 PM - 10:00 PM

403 327 8770
Tue-Wed, Fri-Sat 10-5; Thu 10-7; Sun 1-5


The question of why there are no significant digital artworks is a red herring.  It’s a problem of looking in the wrong direction – of looking to the computer for evidence of the type of art this media makes possible.  The effect digital media is having on artmaking is rather found off the screen.  There is ample evidence for this in contemporary art practice.  Screen and Décor creates the context for looking at this phenomenon through the work of six artists.  

For Screen and Décor the use of pattern and ornament, in the sense of extended motif, in contemporary art is understood as an organizing principle in a world of excessive data.  It is a structural strategy that responds to the cultural zeitgeist, one in which the index of the image is subjected to the infinite slippage of the digital.

The unit of composition in many contemporary artworks is not the pixel but the screen.  Today, the screen takes many forms: on the computer, the phone, the TV, in the cinema.  But for the last, these technologies share an ability to be image-capturing devices.  The screen as the unit of composition is therefore understood as the digitally manipulated image source the artist works from.  The screen is also a frame that re-contextualizes segments of space-time, a tendency that finds a parallel in the artist’s use of décor.  Today’s artists use décor and decoration both ironically and in earnest, often to evoke stylistic periods or atmospheres, or to specify a conditional space that may expand or contract accordingly.

In the same way artists use the frame of artwork as a kind of capturing device, the exhibition itself makes use of a framing device in the form of its overall design.  To investigate the relationship between the digital motif and its influence on three-dimensional space, Screen and Décor has been created in collaboration with artist Rodney LaTourelle and exhibition designer Louise Witthöft.  LaTourelle is known for expanding the aesthetics of Colour Field painting into room-sized installations.

LaTourelle and Witthöft’s overall exhibition design for Screen and Décor uses coloured Plexiglas panels to affect the visitor’s physical experience of the exhibition space and their perception of the artworks on display.  Based on a series of displacements between apprehension and experience, the exhibition design expands and enhances the show’s theme.  The other artists participating in Screen and Décor present contemporary iterations of the artwork as a dynamic multiplicity, assembling patterns, fields or ‘distributed images’ into singular, autonomous forms.

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