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Design | Media Arts students connect life and art in exhibition, ‘Away from Keyboard’

“Away from Keyboard,” a new exhibit at the New Wight Gallery, features work from several Design | Media Arts graduate students.

By Josh Wasbin

October 14, 2009 11:58 pm

In the New Wight Gallery, history is twisting and turning the arms of a group of Design | Media Arts graduate students.

The artists in the exhibit in some way visited their pasts for inspiration for the art in the show. This week, all of these pasts come tumbling together for their newly opened exhibition “Away from Keyboard.”

The exhibition will feature several graduate students and their artwork. One of the students, Gautam Rangan, will be installing an exhibit that consists of a microscope and a projection.

The organism has a microphone and a light sensor built in so that it can respond to any changes in the environment. The audience can shake it, blow on it, talk to it, and so forth. When this happens, the microcosm reacts.

“It can sprout life and organisms and swim around,” Rangan said.

The exhibit focuses on the creation of an organism that is not real and could not scientifically exist. What the audience sees in the microscope ­­”“ and consequently the projected image on the screen ““ is constructed. The project was done in collaboration with fellow designer and Design | Media Arts student Yoon Jung Han.

Christo Allegra, a graduate student in Design | Media Arts, also has pieces at the exhibition. Much like Rangan’s art connects to his studies in biology, Allegra’s connects to his financial services work.

“I was a creative director for a design company that focused on financial services,” Allegra said. “One of my pieces is “˜At the End of the Day,’ which is a visualization of stock market data from recession to recession, but it documents each point of data with black and white roses.”

This piece is part of a greater series of his called “Recession.” The series focuses on attempting to physicalize the information about economic data from recessions, as the name of the series might suggest.

Eric Siu is also a graduate student in Design | Media Arts whose art is being featured in the exhibition. His piece is entitled “Body Hack.” It is a simulation that captures full body motion and matches them alongside a projected film. The movie plays faster the better the viewer matches the poses of the characters on the screen.

“Imagine using your body as a remote control,” Siu said.

Siu’s idea came from his interest in video game design and his idea that people have an innate desire to imitate art.

“We are all influenced by the media: We want to dress like it, we want to act like it,” Siu said.

The students were not given any prompts or suggestions in regards to what to install in the exhibit, but there are a few connections.

“All of us are sort of interested in creating this false reality in a way,” Rangan said.

This shared goal among the artists is not the only recurrent theme in the show. The pieces are connected in a conceptual way that transcends aesthetics.

“It’s not a show that’s all about blue or something like that,” Allegra said.

The pieces in the exhibition are also connected through the proximity of the artists and their workplaces through the year.

“We worked closely with one another, we worked in the same rooms, and consequently we talked,” Rangan said, “In that way there are connections.”

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Josh Wasbin
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