Words By Dale Youngman
Photos by Cindy Schwarzstein, The Do Lab, Bathsheba.com, Dennis Callahan, Curious Josh, and Dale Youngman
As an art enthusiast always looking for the next “movement,” I am mesmerized by the increasing amount of art that utilizes, and is in fact made possible – by cutting edge technology.
The first “smART Gallery” debuted at Lightning in a Bottle, the decade-old music, art and performance festival created by The Do Lab, an LA-based creative events group, that is now held annually over Memorial Day Weekend at Oak Canyon Ranch in SiIverado, CA. (The event features world-class music, elaborate performance art, conscious-living workshops, yoga and meditation for the masses, and spectacular 2-D and 3-D art.) This year, “The smART Gallery – where Science Meets Art” was a highlight of the festival, incredibly popular due not only to the dizzying art on-hand, but also for the dynamic speakers and presentations held there daily.
The diverse exhibit, sculpture garden, and lecture series with over 40 participating artists was co-produced by Mike Russek, Gilles d’Amecourt, and Douglas Campbell, co-founder of Mindshare LA and the creative collective, “Synn Labs.” The gallery showcased the future of art, including digital artwork, multi-media installations, kinetic art, projection mapping, 3-D printed sculpture and jewelry – all created using new and emerging technologies, allowing the viewer to experience and even interact with art, rather than just observe it.
This groundbreaking movement in the art world is both entertaining and enlightening, and for the artists – it is also freeing, allowing them to actually manifest the ideas in their heads using the newest of tools. Russek calls himself a “cocktail napkin translator”, because he can take an artist sketch and make it real in his cutting edge fabrication studio.
Russek, who is inspired by technology, creates work using computer-driven laser cutting machines and a CNC mill. Drawing his designs on the computer, he cuts his work, typically in wood or resin, with Illustrator vector files, creating sleek and sexy works of art. (The first sale from the gallery was one of his pieces, made of oil board, plexiglass and wood, purchased by the festival’s founder.) He also fabricated work for other exhibiting artists using this technology, creating limited –edition laser-etched prints for LA artists Michael Pukac, Amanda Sage, and Liz Brizzi.
The best-selling collection from the SMART Gallery was “Bathsheba Sculpture,” which uses a revolutionary new technology – 3-D printing. Bathsheba Grossman, a sculptor who “explores the region between art and mathematics” creates small metal sculptures and jewelry based on mathematical equations and complex symmetrical 3-D forms that can only be created in this method, which works by sintering steel powder in layers to build up the shape in space.
In the June 26th Mindshare event, Douglas Campbell again addressed Smart Art, this time with actual Cal Tech scientists explaining that sometimes in the course of their scientific research, they discover and observe incredibly beautiful images under their microscopes. This “Nano Art” is actually a happy accident – a bonus, or by-product they find during their time of research and discovery.
Studying such things as the thermo-dynamic properties of certain materials, or how carbon nano-tubes become stronger when stretched, the images seen through super high-powered microscopes are beautiful, otherworldly, and often defy description. Photographs taken through a scanning electron microscope are now called “SEM Art,” delivering us never-before –seen images that are often completely breathtaking in form, color, and depth. For some really stunning images, check out the “Sonic Stalagmites” by scientist David Guttman at http://davidguttman.com/stalagmites
One scientist – Dennis Callahan- spoke about “The Portrait of a Scientist as a Young Artist.” It was a telling tale, about the surprising and delightful discoveries that he found while doing research on Cal Tech’s million-dollar equipment. His “data visualization of fluid dynamics” creates the kind of images that mesmerize a viewer.
As Russek pointed out, the artwork he chose to showcase is only recently made possible through the latest technological advancements, allowing him and his featured artists to ”work smarter, not harder.” “I’m really hoping that people are going to walk out of The smART Gallery with new knowledge that art can be created in these different ways.”
“When people can go up and see this interactive display of carbon emission generated by airplanes all over the world everyday, it’s not just subjective, it’s a direct way to inform people about the world around them,” said Campbell. “I think technology has this amazing ability to give us a new sense to experience the world and to extend our own perceptive limits. That to me is a huge part of the smART Gallery. I would love for all those who came to LIB this year to feel proud to have been part of what we hope will be the movement of “smartism.”