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ISSUE 119 VOL 8 PUBLISHED 11/11/2005

Exhibit offers digital art, photos

By Joe Christopherson
Contributing Writers

Friday, November 11, 2005

“Still moving still,” which opened last Friday at the Flaten Art Museum, examines how media shapes our perceptions and to some extent, our emotions.

The show includes pieces ranging from color photography to interactive installations. The three featured local artists, Patrick Kelley, Dave Ryan and Andrea Shaker, are from Northfield, Mankato and Minneapolis respectively. They each take a variety of thematic approaches to their mediums.

Digital media, while relevant to our increasingly digital culture, often remains ambiguous to the technologically saturated public.

The iPod, e-mail and the digital camera are everyday tools. Yet, the ways these new technologies shape our understanding and vision of the world are often overlooked.

Kelley and Ryan used interaction in their pieces as a conduit for comprehension, inviting the viewer to become part of the piece, as in Ryan’s “Escape Velocity.”

The viewer turns a crank wheel and witnesses a corresponding “map” projected onto the wall. The piece plays with the idea of a 3-D illusion and the link between the actual physical object, producing the illusion, which in this case becomes an illusion itself.

Kelley’s work addresses the theoretical basis of technology. Kelley’s untitled photography series captures natural objects ordered in precise patterns and simple geometric shapes.

Even if the conceptual aspects of the photographs are often difficult to grasp, the visual effect of the pieces is satisfying, and that is perhaps more important than understanding their meaning.

As Kelley said in his artist’s statement, researched ambiguity may be part of the experience: “Incoherence in an image can be a vehicle for understanding in which the language dependent on reason must blindly follow rather than lead.”

Shaker takes a different approach from her peers, with more personal and approachable pieces. They are less concerned with what goes into making the actual pieces

Her “Waiting” series is composed of unsettlingly calm photographs of a house’s interior. The simple compositions and strange awkwardness add to a general feeling of isolation in these scenes. This feeling, coupled with the large scale of the pieces, makes them extremely emotionally powerful.

Her pieces contrast nicely with the more technically focused approach of Ryan and Kelley’s work. Although thematically she seems slightly out of step with the other two artists, her work is equally impressive. In the dissonance, the digital art and photography add to each other.

The show makes a concerted effect to draw viewers into the digital media and processes. However, it is thematically vague as a whole, despite each of the artists’ concerted attempts to define their works.

Even if the show does remain slightly ambiguous, it is worth seeing for the visual effect. The pleasure of digital art may still be lost on some people, but “Still moving still” makes a valiant attempt to draw them into the fold.

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