Video of Exhibition and Opening by Chris Rackley
Not of this Earth: Contemporary Art and Science Fiction is an exhibition comprised of art relating to science fiction. Sci-fi has been a prevailing method of entertainment and consideration of the seemingly possible consequences of technological advancement. The artworks in this exhibition consider these possible alternate realities and dystopian futures long perpetuated by the sci-fi genre. Some pieces share a kinship with the big-screen aesthetic popularized in the 1950s and carried forward in television such as Michael Lewy’s Bigfoot Island. Borrowing narrative and aesthetic elements from the many television shows he watched as a child in the ‘70s — including Lost in Space, the Six Million Dollar Man, Star Trek, and Land of the Lost — Michael Lewy created Bigfoot Island, a homage to past pioneers. Some pieces in the show are purposeful instruments such as Sophia Breuckner’s Empathy Box, which provides its users a sense of shared contact through warmth. In a world of technological distraction, Empathy Box attempts to provide comfort through perceived physical connectivity. A technological device itself, the piece yields an alternate use of electronics and asks the viewer to consider the ways in which technology may impact our lives presently and in the future.
The artists in this exhibition include: Sophia Brueckner, Micah Ganske, Tatiana Gulenkina, Carol Hayes, Michael Lewy, Joseph Popper, Chris Rackley, and Marion Tampon-Lajarriette.
About the Artists:
Sophia Brueckner, born in Detroit, MI, is an artist, designer, and engineer. Inseparable from computers since the age of two, she believes she is a cyborg. She received her Sc.B. in Computer Science and Applied Mathematics from Brown University. As a software engineer at Google, she designed and implemented products used by tens of millions and later on experimental projects within Google Research.
Brueckner earned her MFA in Digital + Media at the Rhode Island School of Design where she explored the simultaneously empowering and controlling aspects of technology, particularly within user experience design and computer programming, through her artwork. As a researcher at the MIT Media Lab in the Fluid Interfaces Group, she combined the understanding that interfaces structure thought processes with ideas from cognitive behavioral therapy and embodied cognition to design and build haptic devices for mental health.
Brueckner feels an urgency to understand and raise awareness of technology’s controlling effects, and to encourage the ethical and thoughtful design of new technologies. To do so, she teaches Sci-Fi Prototyping, a course combining science fiction, building functional prototypes, and the ethics of invention/design. Since 2011, she taught multiple versions of the class to students and researchers at MIT, Harvard, RISD, Brown, and the University of Michigan. Both the class itself as well as the students’ individual projects received international recognition and were featured by The Atlantic, Smithsonian Magazine, Wired, NPR, Scientific American, Fast Company, and many others.
Brueckner’s work has been featured internationally including at SIGGRAPH, Ars Electronica, the Peabody Essex Museum, the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, and the Leaders in Software and Art Conference in New York. She is especially interested in the application of embodied cognition to interaction design, wearable technology, digital fabrication, generative systems, sound, and, as a technology antidote, painting. She recently joined the University of Michigan’s Stamps School of Art and Design as an assistant professor where she teaches sci-fi prototyping, digital fabrication, and creative programming. Her ongoing objective is to meaningfully combine her background in UX design and engineering with the perspective of an artist to create new technologies in the service of mental well-being.
Micah Ganske was born in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1980. In 2002 he received his BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a Post-Baccalaureate certificate from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2003. In 2005 he received his MFA in painting from the Yale School of Art. In 2005 he was the recipient of the Adobe Design Achievement Award in Digital Photography at a reception held at the Guggenheim Museum in New York where his work was also displayed. In October 2007 Deitch Projects exhibited Ganske’s first solo exhibition where he was represented until the gallery’s closing in 2010. Ganske launched his second solo exhibition at RH Gallery in Tribeca in 2011 and was represented there until the gallery’s closing in 2013. Micah Ganske is a 2012 Fellow in Painting from the New York Foundation for the Arts. Ganske is currently represented by 101/Exhibit gallery in Los Angeles and opened his first solo exhibition there in January 2015.
Tatiana Gulenkina is a Russian-born photographer and visual artist based in Washington, DC. She employs both digital technology and traditional darkroom equipment, as well as video and mixed media. She graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore in 2011, and since then her work has been featured in the British Journal of Photography, Harper’s Magazine, The Week, Wired, Juxtapoz Magazine, The Calvert Journal, The Photo Review, Tank Magazine, and other publications, as well as exhibited nationally and internationally. In 2014, she was named one of the 30 Under 30 Women Photographers by Photo Boîte Agency and 30 Photographers Under 30 to Watch by Complex Magazine. In 2015 and 2016, she was awarded an individual artist grant from DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.
Carol Hayes is an artist and designer who lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Her work has been featured in Change of Address at 139 Emerson Place, Computers & Plants at Apartment 3D, Threaded at Spring Gallery, the Nurture Art Benefit Auction at the Bernarducci Meisel Gallery, and in Gather Journal. She has a BFA from the Massachusetts College of Art and completed a residency at the Vermont Studio Center. She works as a book jacket designer for major publishers and for the City of New York.
Michael Lewy is an artist who works in a variety of media including photography, video and computer graphics. He received his MFA from Massachusetts College of Art in 1996; He has been working at MIT as an office adminsitrator since 2000 and also has worked as adn illustrator for such clients as the New York Times book review and HiLow books. He is the author of Chart Sensation, a book of power point charts and has shown at the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, the Pacific Film Archives and is represented by the Carroll and Sons Gallery in Boston. He currently lives in Jamaica Plain, MA with his wife and daughter.
Joseph Popper (London, UK b. 1986) examines space travel and other human technological endeavours by imagining future narratives and simulating fictional experiences. His works depart from developments of the emerging present and seek to project toward things to come. His narratives often feature a lone character reaching beyond the limits of mundane reality.
Popper employs handcrafted imagery and built environments in his approach which expose the honesty and rigour of his process. Everyday objects, simple materials and found locations transform into props and stages for playful, critical fictions where the normal is made fantastic.
Chris Rackley is an adjunct professor at Winona State University teaching drawing and 3-D design. His practice includes drawing, painting, video-making, and sculptural objects incorporating live video feeds that encourage viewers to observe themselves playing in uninhabited space-scapes. His work has been exhibited in several states and he regularly collaborates with Edgar Endress and the Floating Lab Collective. Since relocating to the Midwestern North, he has initiated a series of art projects in collaboration with the community that explores notions of utopia in the context of rural and small town communities experiencing rapid urbanization. He earned an MFA in painting from George Mason University.
French artist Marion Tampon-Lajarriette (b.1982) explores how the image haunts memory and perception – in reality as much as in art. With the help of contemporary digital technology, Tampon-Lajarriette explores various iconic activities or scenes of action in order to create the impression of dramaturgically reproducing or creating memories. The effect for the viewer is that of exploring the general consciousness of the audience. Her work heavily draws on the repertoire of cinema: whether it is the arresting picture of characters falling into the vertiginous image perspective, or an inherent sense of displacement created by staring over the moving surface of the ocean: Tampon-Lajarriette highlights how images penetrate the mind and are recreated through transformative and selective processes of memory. Sometimes the cinematic influence is not immediately recognisable; however, only because the artist uses films as a visual reference in order to explore something else. Tampon-Lajarriette: “I use cinema to challenge our imagination.”
In the words of Elie During (2012): “You have to picture the artist as an ant finding the grainy surface of the images directly under its feet, or as a mole exploring galleries in all their virtual depth. In this case, “virtual” doesn’t imply reality reduced to its sign but the resources found at the margins of or beneath the image, which are also memory’s secret areas of communication. You can fall into an image, wander around in it, explore its surface in an endless tracking shot which becomes indistinguishable from a long static movement, from a kind of crawling of the image itself. In these different forms of motion there’s something both strange and obvious.”
Tampon-Lajarriette has had numerous solo exhibitions, including at Galerie Skopia, Geneva, 2012, 2009, 2007 and Galerie Dix9, Paris, 2012, 2010. Her work has also been shown at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Mamco, Geneva; Garage CCC, Moscow; Cinémathèque Française, Paris; Festival Printemps de Septembre, Toulouse; and is part of the permanent collection at Mamco, Geneva; Maison Européenne de La Photographie, Paris; Nouveau Musée National de Monaco; and the Francois Pinault Foundation. Galerie Skopia showed her work at Art Basel 43 in 2012.