Digital Sites
Numark Gallery, Washington DC
April - May 1999

left to right: Albert Oehlen, Marsha Cottrell, Matt Mullican (photo by Mark Dagley)

From the exhibition mailer:

Artists are increasingly responding to the computer's influence on the ways we see and communicate. "Digital Sites" is an exhibition devoted to those artists establishing a dialogue with technology through a multitude of electronic tools to create new and innovative art.

Three of the artists use the computer to draw. Albert Oehlen's large paintings begin as drawings on the computer which are enlarged to exaggerate the uniform pixels of digital imagery and then printed on canvas. Marsha Cottrell, using a software pallette, makes drawings of manipulated punctuation marks, and Tom Moody uses a Paintbrush program to generate spheres that he photocopies onto small sheets of colored copier paper and collages together.

Some of the artists digitally manipulate images from secondary sources. Wayne Gonzales paints pop-influenced images drawn from computer manipulated stock photographs. Inigo Manglano-Ovalle creates human-scale, digital photographs of DNA imprints with vibrant color enhancements. Jeremy Adams manipulates video images on the computer which are used as inspiration for freehand paintings.

Other artists create images of simulated environments and communication systems. Asymptote, a collaborative effort by architects Lise Anne Couture and Hani Rashid, generates fluid computerized environments that appropriate the forms and structures of everyday objects to form new configurations. Matt Mullican uses the graphic structures of signage to develop abstract visual language systems.

The computer offers limitless ways to produce, enhance, and manipulate images. The artists in "Digital Sites" successfully apply these tools to create unique and compelling work.

Review by Neil Drumming, Washington City Paper:

In these days of Matrix madness, Industrial Light & Magic, and easily accessible bootlegged Photoshop software, it's no big deal that some artists find a mouse handier than a paintbrush. It's a little harder to imagine that mouse as not only the tool but also the inspiration behind the art. In Numark's "Digital Sites" exhibit, a couple of architects who go by the techno-swank name of Asymptote use everything from mice to electric razors to automobile dashboards as jumping-off points for rotating, mutating designs. Lise Ann Couture and Hani Rashid take the basic forms of these mundane objects and extrapolate fantastic landscapes of glowing grids and pseudo-organic asymmetry; given that a sequel to Tron hasn't been made, this is the next best thing. Marsha Cottrell's computer-generated patterns of punctuation marks and other symbols are strewn across the page like a printer test gone awry. Tom Moody, seemingly obsessed with the computer's superiority to the compass, prints out countless perfect spheres and turns them into colossal collages. Inigo Manglano-Ovalle's contributions might be the most visually striking: He digitally photographs DNA imprints, enhances their colors, and blows them up to the size of a human being. Manglano-Ovalle's pieces are stunning reminders of the complexity and brilliance of life's code, illustrations of man's connection to technology on even the most basic level, or something else cool and real modern.

Tom Moody's reply (sent to Drumming but previously unpublished):

I recently saw a copy of your review of "Digital Sites" at Numark Gallery. I thought it was interesting, and believe it or not, I share your skepticism about the mouse-as-muse. I've only seen installation shots of the exhibit, but I would divide it into the geeks (techno-nerds who love computers and technology, personified by Asymptote), and freaks (e.g., Albert Oehlen, who makes desultory AbEx gestures over bad graphics).

By not mentioning the crude, Oehlen-esque aspect of the show, you made us all sound like techies: thus my "countless perfect spheres" (look again, they ain't so perfect) are seen as an obsession with the computer's capabilities rather than a comment on its ability to spew seductive nonsense. Both Marsha Cottrell and I are more rooted in painting's romantic tradition than the "cool and real modern" technophilia of Asymptote and  Manglano-Ovalle.

below: Tom Moody, Exhibit 12, 1997-1999, 88 x 78 inches, photocopies joined with linen tape (photo by Mark Dagley)

Tom Moody Exhibit 12 1997-1999

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