Artists are, by nature, visionaries. They interpret the world around them in their unique way, allowing us a different perspective on things commonplace and extraordinary. The new exhibit at Science Museum Oklahoma’s Satellite Galleries is what happens when the newest, shiniest technology is put in the hands of those who make art. When science and art intersect — and what happens when they do — is what Composites is all about.
The artists chosen for this exhibition have done more than glimpse the future; some of them spend quality time there. They have much to report — some of it marvelous, some of it critical, and some of it cautionary; like good parents, they have the wisdom of experience and the cynicism of wisdom. There is a reason “artist” is often synonymous with “visionary.” When talking about artists, the phrase “ahead of their time” is often used. It is the nature of the artist that they perpetually focus on what’s right around the corner. Some are even generous enough to report back what they see, and honest enough to tell the truth.
In Composites, we not only get to glimpse the future, we get to experience it. Unlike the traditional curated exhibit where the observer is passive, Composites places you right in on the action. The science museum is a far cry from the conventional model of learning from charts, lectures and glass cases dusted frequently and talked about at great length. Quite the opposite, this museum requests that you “please touch” — an environment perfect for this exhibition.
“The focus of Composites is to present questions about technology’s advancement into our social conscience and how they continually affect our perceptions of the world and our everyday existence,” Scott Henderson, director of Satellite Galleries, said. “The viewer will get a sense of how these artists are using technology to redefine art and how the constant flux of new technologies is changing the their art.”
Robert Dohrmann, professor of art theory at the University of Oklahoma, has broad interests aside from applying paint to canvas. He has long been fascinated with the role that art plays in influencing people. Dohrmann’s contribution to the show is an interactive look at future technology that, thanks to science, is now obtainable. Slick marketing and vivid imagery lure the viewer in to obtain the appearance they always wanted. The obvious critique Dohrmann presents is that, even with all this advancement and possibility, human beings still make appearance a high priority.
Matthew Kaney’s “Electronic Symphony I” takes the idea of art having to be observed to be appreciated and tosses it out the window. His piece comes to life when someone approaches and continues to react to his or her actions, filtering them into different media devices. One of the things that motivated Kaney was the ubiquity of this technology.
“[It’s] almost like we regard them (media devices) as sentient,” Kaney said. “We give them a lot of credit.”
Part of his exhibit is a playful illustration of this idea that the viewer “interacts” with various non-sentient media devices. He’s drawn to the process of working with technology and said that, at this point, sometimes it’s the technology that informs him what the art and the process will be.
These are just two examples of what artists see in the ever-broadening world of technology and how these advances have a broad application in all areas of life. Making those advances meaningful and understood is what the exhibit and the Science Museum as a whole strives for. Composites does this in a fun and informative way and makes those visiting the galleries a part of that education.
Henderson hopes the work will surprise both those expecting a more mature, stoic display and those wanting a fun, playful experience.
“I hope that all the shows I curate at Science Museum Oklahoma will help close that gap of the art/artist stereotype,” Henderson said. “It will hopefully spark curiosity and wonder, which, in turn, leads to new discoveries and innovation.”
An opening reception for Composites is 6-9 p.m. Friday at Science Museum Oklahoma. For more information, call 602-6664 or visit sciencemuseumok.org.