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Where Art Meets Tech At the Zip III Art Show

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Tech has become an integral part of our lives in almost every way. It’s how we communicate, how we consume new media, and, through social media and photography, has become a platform for creative expression. The tech world has begun to merge with the world of art and has spurred innovation. So it’s about time an art show properly represented and explored this cultural intersection.

Last weekend, in a New York bar, met a girl through mutual friends. She’s in her mid-twenties, and her name’s Chloe Karayiannis. Like most first interactions we covered the small talk basics: “Where are you from?” “How do you know so-and-so?” and, ultimately, “What do you do?” I began to tell her about BOLDFISH and the ethos of creating a platform for awareness on the impact of tech on our lives. She excitedly responded by presenting me with the Instagram page of an art show she is co-curating called Zip. This is the third Zip show she’ll put on and I found that we shared a lot of commonalities within our missions.

A painting at Zip III Art Show

A Little More About Zip and Zip III

Zip is a pop-up exhibition series which gives artists a chance to exhibit all sorts of works. This includes design, painting, digital, performance, augmented reality, and sculpture. The particular show I went to on Saturday, March 9th, was Zip III. The works were created by a group of multinational artists “exploring what it means to be human in the twenty-first century amidst an expanding world of technology.” Similar to the goals of BOLDFISH, Zip III aimed to create a conversation about the “significance and possibilities of a globalized society through virtual spaces.” The exhibit’s aim was to extend beyond the physical and showcase the strength online and virtual platforms have in connecting us. The two curators, one being British and both living in the U.S., believe that especially at this moment in time with Trump as president and Brexit occurring in the U.K., tech and a virtual community have the power to break down the physical or legal barriers and borders that often silence or separate people in the real world.

My Experience At the Show

Saturday afternoon rolls around and I successfully managed to scrounge up two friends to come to check out the show with me. We had planned to go gallery hopping, so decided to show up a little early to Zip III. We were the first ones there and got a very personal look at the show. Three screens hung on one wall. Sculptures were placed around the main floor and the three remaining walls were adorned with canvases and prints. The concept of the show was expressed frankly and uniquely through each piece. All different mediums were used to convey the same general idea and each artist managed to stay on topic distinctively.

CGI installation at Zip Art Show

The Art

Pull Pull

I was immediately drawn to the video screens, which in it of itself speaks a lot to the effects of tech on our generation. The first was a CGI video named Pull Pull. It begins with two humanoid silhouettes kissing in an embrace. It seemed to get more and more intricate and psychedelic the longer you affixed your gaze. The figures hairstyles and skin colors evolve and change and their bodies merge into mermaids and mystical looking creatures as the video progresses. The artist, Carol Civre, is a 3D and creative technology artist. This piece, in particular, was named after a Balinese mass kissing ceremony that celebrates fortune and prosperity. The animation takes the concept into a digital space where identity is irrelevant to an attraction. The video aspect of Pull Pull created a tangible and powerful storyline. It showcased passion and intimacy through impressive digital skills and tact.

paintings at the Zip III Art Show

Nacent

The other pieces I was especially drawn to were three mixed media collages by the same artist, Erin Ko, from the collection Nacent. One was named Life on Mars; the second, Moonage; the third, Slightly Dazed. Life on Mars (the largest) was the first one that caught my eye. The aluminum canvas was painted with bursting enamel colors featuring astronauts floating around wearing the Facebook logo on their space suits. The astronaut represents a bittersweet figure, in that they are the vessels in which we search for worlds outside of our own. In this particular piece, the astronauts are practicing sacred hand gestures called “mudras,” a representation of trying to look in. The push-pull of looking into ourselves, while also trying to be part of something bigger, is a representation of how we interact with the online world. Beyond the beautiful colors on the canvas in real life, the piece also offered a layer of augmented reality if you held your phone up to it. What appears when you hold your phone up to the artwork is a live stream of mirror selfies and data cylinders that are constantly changing as you view. Because the virtual aspect of the art piece is a live feed it is an“organic connection to the outside world.” These three pieces were layered physically, technologically, and mentally. The bursting colors and many layers of enamel on the actual canvas, then the layer of augmented reality, and finally all the questions and concepts the piece asked and represented made it an impactful statement on how social media, the internet, and technology have become an important part of all those aspects of our lives.

The artists that were brought together and curated thoughtfully by Allegra Maria Venturi and Chloe Karayiannis are all young enough to understand the obstacles we face as well as the opportunities we are given at the hands of technology and the internet. Every piece in the show, whether it was video, painting, mixed media, or sculpture represented a struggle or an advantage given to us by technology.

allegra and chloe curators of Zip III Art Show
Curators of Zip. Allegra (left) Chloe (right). Photo by Colin Hughes

We read about the dangers of digital addiction, we read about the pros of advances in technology, we watch movies and play on our cellphones and use it all the time, but stepping back and viewing it through a different lens was eye opening. Art has always been about expressing oneself and more often than not is a representation of the circumstances the artist deals within their real life. When you think of it like that, it makes sense that young artists would be incorporating and exploring the impact of tech in their art. Although the Zip III show is closed, you can keep an eye on upcoming shows on their website or, in the spirit of this digital age, follow them on Instagram.

Written by Delfina Forstmann

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