Archive for the ‘Installation Art’ Category

This post comes to us from Sarah Schaller, Curatorial Intern.

Installation artist Soo Sunny Park has always been intrigued by the space between the physical and imaginary worlds. Her work consistently explores that liminal, or in-between, space with her use of light and shadow. The New Britain Museum of American Art is excited to exhibit her new installation Boundary Conditions in the LeWitt staircase.


Soo Sunny Park’s Boundary Conditions , 2013-2014. Stainless steel, Plexiglass, paint. Commissioned through the Alice Osborne Bristol Fund. Photo by Nick Artymiak.


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Have you recently ventured into the Contemporary Gallery at the NBMAA? Wondering what the futuristic sound-dome is all about? LIsten in as the artist-mastermind behind The Road Not Taken, Jason Huff, and Curatorial Intern, Emily Sesko, discuss  the work and muse about art and life.

Emily Sesko (ES): A few of your projects “zoom in” on an interaction between literature and algorithmic computer functions. How would you say your experiences with these projects, like “AutoSummarize” or “The Road Not Taken” have affected your perspective on literature, or have they not?

Jason Huff (JH): I think about literature differently now. I keep trying to imagine the 30 million or more books on Google Books, plus all of the other texts on sites like Project Gutenberg, and it’s overwhelming. When I created “AutoSummarize,” I was interested in Markov string generators and how computer algorithms could learn English-language grammars. I was curious to find the algorithms’ limits.

In “AutoSummarize,” I use Microsoft Word’s summary algorithm to create the summaries. It was absurd to me that software engineers had built a tool that would let users summarize any body of text to 1% of its original length. (Maybe it makes sense for business documents, but I’m still not convinced.) When I started using Word to summarize entire books, the results were unexpected. Suddenly, I was reminded of all the Cliffs Notes I read in high school, of classic books, only these summaries were even more succinct — ridiculously so. The summaries felt like parodies of the originals, but also true to the way reading and writing has changed over the years.

Microsoft added AutoSummarize to Word in 1997. Each new version includes some upgraded version of the function. There are some basic rules that apply to the summaries; word count, capitalization, etc. Outside of those rules, the algorithm is a bit of a mystery. Making the work was my way of trying to understand two things: one, how Word’s AutoSummarize function produces its summaries, and two, how an algorithm can tell stories.

To me, it is fascinating that algorithms are making content decisions. It’s not a big secret; everyone knows that algorithms power things like Google Search and grammar-correcting word-processing programs. What is interesting is how often people take these complicated equations for granted. If we start to think of them as authors of content — or co-authors — that collaborate with us to generate meaning and poetry, things start to get a lot more interesting. “The Road Not Taken” really points to this idea. It asks viewers to pause and think about the millions of other people and entities who co-create search suggestions, including the algorithm itself, their own personal search histories and current location notwithstanding. The scale of conditional factors is really tremendous, and the way the resulting prosaic language (in the case of Google search suggestions) is presented is meant to feel like a default choice. It’s designed to be seen and clicked, but not really thought about. It’s like Google saying, “Follow the easy paths. We know you like them.”

So I think there is a second author hiding in plain sight, and remixing not only our very interesting historic literature, but also the everyday junk language we use to search the Web. I think phenomena like Google search suggestions are just as influential to pop culture as a pop-novelist whose writing reflects a particular moment. Our own everyday story is being told back to us in these fractured web- and software interfaces all the time. It is its own kind of literature. (more…)

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Now through January 27th, the public is invited to participate in an upcoming installation by NEW/NOW artist, Michael Mahalchick, by donating objects which will become the raw material for his work. Welcomed items include trinkets, hand-made treasures, decorative objects, manufactured goods,  etc. If an object could conceivably be found at a garage sale and is of reasonable size, it likely fits the bill. Objects selected for inclusion in the artist’s work will be featured in the upcoming exhibition NEW/NOW: Michael Mahalchick in the Cheney Gallery March 9- June 9, 2013.

The work of Michael Mahalchick defies any one specific definition. Moving seamlessly between the realms of sculpture/assemblage, installation, performance, music and dance, Mahalchick incorporates a self-identified “scavenging” aesthetic or “thrift-store nostalgia” to his work. In utilizing objects of everyday use (or disuse), the artist is free to imbue whatever meaning he sees fit to ascribe, making icons out of the ordinary.

Michael Mahalchick March 7 – April 22nd, 2012 : Michael Mahalchick, "IT" installation, March 6th, 2012, Canada Gallery

Michael Mahalchick, “IT” installation, March 6th, 2012, Canada Gallery

Ever since Duchamp scandalized the world with his Fountain, the concept of the object as art has been a prominent part of our visual lexicon, from Rauschenberg’s gritty Combines to the poetic assemblages of Joseph Cornell. Like Duchamp, Mahalchick’s works call into question meaning and purpose in art and culture. Who holds the power to ascribe meaning in our every day lives and why? (more…)

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This post comes to us from Bethany Gugliemino, Curatorial Intern

Joyous Windows, 2003-2006. Mundy Hepburn (b.1955). Hand-blown glass, phosphor, argon, helium, krypton, neon, radon, xenon, small static electric charge. Charles F. Smith Fund, 2006.00.

Mundy Hepburn, of Old Saybrook, Connecticut, began his experiments with glassblowing in 1963 at the age of eight after accompanying his mother to the Guilford Town Fair, where he witnessed a glassblowing demonstration. Captivated by what he had seen, he attempted to replicate the effects himself at home by melting an old light bulb over the flames of a gas stove. His mother caught him, but Hepburn quickly explained that he had “fire polished” the glass, removing the sharp edges. His mother was impressed by his inventiveness, and from that point on his parents encouraged his experiments (and made sure that they were more properly supervised). He dropped out of school at fourteen but continued to explore new methods of working with glass as a way of dealing with personal problems he was experiencing at the time.


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This post comes to us from Bethany Gugliemino, Curatorial Intern.


Particular Heights 2.0, 2012. Paul Theriault (b.1972) and Siebren Versteeg (b.1971). Handmade steel swing set, counter, and LCD monitor. Collection of the artists.

 On the evening of May 25, the LED counter mounted above the swing in the front courtyard of the NBMAA displayed a single red digit: 0. Two weeks later, the counter boasted the significantly larger number of 3614, a number that will only continue to grow in the coming months. This swing is one part of Particular Heights 2.0, the second incarnation of an installation by artists Paul Theriault and Siebren Versteeg that was first displayed in New Haven, Connecticut in 2010. Consisting of an outdoor component (the swing and LED counter) and a gallery component, the installation falls into the category of New Media, a field with which both Theriault and Versteeg are very familiar. New Media involves the fusion of traditional mediums such as painting, sculpture, and music with the interactive potential of computers, communications technology, and the internet. Both Theriault and Versteeg have worked individually with New Media in the past, producing works that explore themes of contemporary life and the way that digital technology can be used to create pieces that constantly change and grow.


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Blue Boar (2010) installed in the Contemporary Gallery at the NBMAA

The New Britain Museum of American Art is pleased to feature the newest addition to the New Media series, Blue Boar, 2010 by Victoria Bradbury. This interactive, mixed-media installation brings the viewer into the midst of a witch trial – the so-called “blue boar incident.” In 1692, 75-year-old Mary Bradbury, the artist’s 10th great-grandmother and the first “American” woman in her lineage, was convicted of witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts. Two local men, Richard Carr and Zerubabel Endicott, accused Mrs. Bradbury of transforming herself into a blue boar while she was tending to her garden. Victoria Bradbury retells the “blue boar incident”  through a sewn book narrated by vegetables, face recognition software projected onto a sculpture of a boar, and a video animation of a blue boar running through flowers.


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Carson Fox (b. 1970) installing one of her cast resin snowflakes

“I am interested in beauty but I mistrust it. Instead, I look for beauty that exists in tension with the material or circumstances that invent it”. This has become one of the mantras of Carson Fox, the Brooklyn-based artists whose artwork is the newest installment in the NEW/NOW exhibition series for emerging contemporary artists. The dual nature of beauty is certainly evident in Bi-Polar, which will open at the NBMAA on November 4th.


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