Friday, November 23, 2018

Balancing Act and being inspired by a pioneer of digital art

Balancing Act
This year, I fell in love with Zacatecas and four of its museums. After Mexico City, Zacatecas is often mentioned as the city in Mexico with the most museums. I don't know about the most, but every one I've visited has had a powerful emotional impact on me.
My favorite is Museo de Arte Abstracto Manuel Felguérez, one of the few Latin American museums dedicated to abstract art. One of the collections literally took my breath away and made my heart pound. Osaka Murales. 

I like murals and and admire the rich symbology of Rivera, Siguieros and Orozco, but this display space, this huge room barely contains the raw emotion of these 12 large-format paintings. 
Created as a unified exhibit after the tragedy of the student uprising in 1968, and for the World Fair of Osaka 70, these paintings, curated by Fernando Gamboa, denounce, "The distressing imbalance of the wrong application of the machine, technology and science not used for the benefit and harmony of the people.” This image provides a sense of scale of the murals in the exhibit. (Photo credit unknown.)
Osaka murals room
This museum is housed in a former prison where you walk through the amazing work of Manuel Felguérez on metal catwalks formerly used by prison guards.
Arena entre dos mares
 Article, in Spanish, about the Museum
However, the exhibit that really excited me told the story of Felguérez's exploration of digital art! 
Apparently in the 1970s, he started thinking about the role of the computer in the generation of art. He won a scholarship from Guggenheim and went to Harvard where he worked with Mayer Masson, a systems engineer at American Electric Power, who liked art. They created a computer program that used principles and geometric shapes identified by Felguérez to create almost unlimited new "ideograms-designs.” 

The walls of one exhibit in the museum were filled with black and white designs that made my head spin with possibilities. I immediately knew that I wanted to play with some of those designs. It has taken several months to get back to this idea, but Balancing Act is my first attempt to use one of Felguérez’s designs.
However, first, let's look at one piece the artist created using his computer program. Here is a piece of his art ...  ... followed by the ideogram that inspired it.
Marmórea Espuma ... 1995
 Apparently, Felguérez turned a bunch of these ideograms into black and white abstracts and here's the one I chose to work with:

Ideogram 1
The title came from the balance that drew me into this particular piece and the idea of balancing inspiration from the work of another artist as it interacts with pieces of my own work.
Pretty amazing that, in one museum, there is an exhibit depicting the violence of the world driven by technology and a harnessing of technology in order to create new art.


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