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Mattress Factory Announces Guest-curated Group Exhibition Likeness

PITTSBURGH, PA.- Portraits are everywhere. They are in our wallets; on our computers, cell phones and desktops; on the walls of corporate offices, banks and schools. But what precisely is a portrait or image of likeness? How do artists’ methods and materials evolve as technology progresses with break-neck speed? And in this age of user-generated content, who exactly is the artist?

LIKENESS is a group exhibition that aims to examine human depiction during a post-Warholian era in which new technology has played an influential role. It includes the work of artists Jim Campbell, Paul DeMartinis, John Herschend, Nikki Lee, Joseph Manino, Greta Pratt and Tony Oursler.

Elaine A. King, who is a freelance critic and curator as well as a professor at Carnegie Mellon University teaching Art History/Theory/Museum Studies, will curate the exhibition.

According to King, “All of these artists have worked with different materials in cross-disciplinary ways and each have made works that focus on shifts in the manifestation of human beings during this time of social and technological transformation. The change in focus of the human figure in contemporary art from other eras, which primarily relied upon the sensory and physical properties of form as subject matter has shifted in portrayal because of alterations of lifestyle, identity and technology. The human figure now functions as a narrative and physiological vehicle reflecting the human condition within a social and political context. Each artist in this exhibition uses the figure as a common vehicle through which they express personal and aesthetic issues alluding to the human condition of our time. The portrayal of human likeness continues to be an important vehicle for artistic self-discovery and self-definition against the velocity of change in our world.”

LIKENESS is a multi-part exhibition that uses virtually all areas in the Mattress Factory’s main gallery facility. Portions of the exhibition involve new media and emerging technologies to introduce participatory elements based on visitor-generated content.


Jim Campbell
earned degrees in Electrical Engineering and Mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). As an engineer, he holds more than a dozen patents in the field of image processing. His artistic work has been widely exhibited around the world, and some of his most recent exhibitions include Ars Electronica, (Linz, 2000), Vision Ruhr (Dortmund, 2000), BitStreams, Whitney Museum, (New York, 2001), Taipei Biennial, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, (2002, Taipei, Taiwan), House of the Tomorrow, Experimenta, (Melbourne, Australia, 2003), ARCO 2006 (Madrid, Spain), and Closed Circuit, Video and New Media at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, 2007). His work has also been showcased in many solo exhibitions, including an important 2005 retrospective at SITE Santa Fe (Santa Fe, NM), entitled Quantizing Effects: The Liminal Art of Jim Campbell. This show went on to tour a number of cities in the U.S. In 1999, the Rockefeller Foundation awarded Campbell a fellowship in multimedia, and the same year, he received the Eureka Award from the Fleishhacker Foundation. The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation also recognized him with an award in 2003.

Paul DeMarinis has been working as an electronic media artist since 1971 and has created numerous performance works, sound and computer installations and interactive electronic inventions. One of the first artists to use computers in performance, he has performed internationally, at The Kitchen, Festival d’Automne a Paris, Het Apollohuis in Holland and at Ars Electronica in Linz and created music for Merce Cunningham Dance Co. His interactive audio artworks have been exhibited at the I.C.C. in Tokyo, Bravin Post Lee Gallery in New York, The Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco and the 2006 Shanghai Biennale. Much of his recent work deals with the areas of overlap between human communication and technology. Major installations include The Edison Effect which uses optics and computers to make new sounds by scanning ancient phonograph records with lasers, Gray Matter which uses the interaction of flesh and electricity to make music, The Messenger that examines the myths of electricity in communication and recent works such as RainDance and Firebirds that use fire and water to create the sounds of music and language.

Jonn Herschend, raised in a Midwestern amusement park, is a visual artist whose work explores the breakdown of narrative. His video work, photos and paintings have been exhibited both nationally and internationally, including the Hunterdon Museum of Art in Clinton, New Jersey; the Berkeley Art Museum in Berkeley, California; and Lademoen Kunstnerverksteder (LKV) in Trondheim, Norway, where he was an artist in residence in 2005. Within the San Francisco, California area, where he lives and works, his paintings and videos have been exhibited in venues such as Southern Exposure, The Lab, The San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery, Intersection for the Arts, and the The Pacific Film Archive. In 2002 he was an artist in-residence at The De Young Museum Art Center in San Francisco, and in 2004 he was a co-recipient for the Kala Arts Board Prize and a finalist for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s SECA award. He received his MFA from UC Berkeley in 2006.

Nikki Lee moved to New York City after earning her B.F.A. at Chung-Ang University in South Korea in 1993. She later attended the Fashion Institute of Technology and earned her M.A. in photography at New York University in 1998. In her work, Lee investigates notions of identity through the medium of photography and film. Her most noted work, Projects (1997-2001), begun while still in school, depicts her in snapshot photographs, in which she poses with various ethnic and social groups, including drag queens, punks, swing dancers, senior citizens, Latinos, hip-hop musicians and fans, skateboarders, lesbians, young urban professionals, and Korean schoolgirls. Lee conceives of her work as less about creating beautiful pictures, and more about investigating notions of identity and the uses of vernacular photography. Her projects propose questions regarding identity and social behavior. Do we choose our social groups consciously? How are we identified by other people? Is it possible for us to move between cultures? Lee believes that “essentially life itself is a performance. When we change our clothes to alter our appearance, the real act is the transformation of our way of expression—the outward expression of our psyche.” In her latest series, Layers, included in the LIKENESS exhibition, Lee continues her exploration of identity. Instead of changing character, she investigates her personal identity through the perception of others in different cultural settings from Bangkok to Madrid.

Nikki Lee has exhibited at major institutions throughout the United States and abroad, including solo exhibitions at GAK, Bremen, Germany; the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City; The Cleveland Museum of Art; The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco; and Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago. Her works are in the collections of major museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Hammer Museum at UCLA, Los Angeles; the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. She is currently living in Korea doing research in preparation for a major exhibition that will take place next year.

Joseph Mannino was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1950. He received his B.A. degree from Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois and his M.F.A. from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. Mr. Mannino’s solo exhibitions include the Arlington Arts Center, Arlington, Virginia; Montpelier Cultural Art Center, Laurel, MD; BACA/Brooklyn Arts Council, NY, NY; Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA; the International Sculpture Conference Exhibition, Oakland, CA; and the Three Rivers Arts Festival, Pittsburgh, PA. He has participated in numerous group shows, including shows at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, NY; the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts, TX; Pewabic Pottery, Detroit MI; Southern Alleghenies Museum, PA; Erie Art Museum, PA; Newark Museum, NJ; and Washington Square, Washington, D.C. He has been awarded large-scale commissions by Carnegie Mellon University and the City of Sacramento. Mr. Mannino’s work appears in the permanent collections of, among others, the City of Palo Alto, CA; the City of Sacramento, CA; the Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC; the University of Alabama, Birmingham, AL; the University of California, Davis, CA; and the Washington State Art Commission, Medical Lake, WA. He has been granted artist residencies at the Bemis Foundation, Omaha, NE; Ex Colonia FF SS Ballabio, Italy; Kunstseminar, Metzingen, Germany; Associazione Promozione Iniziative Sociocultural, Sardegna, Italy; the Montpelier Cultural Arts Center, Laurel, MD; and the Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygen, WI.

Tony Oursler is an artist who embraces modern technology as a means of probing our inner selves, be they obsessive, delusional, comedic, or all of the above. He deals with communication and lack of communication and the power of the TV image and its ability to dominate our environment. He animates the inanimate and explores both real and imagined space. Underlying all, however, is the belief that contemporary man has lost control, both of himself and of his environment. These concerns are often expressed within a political context. Tony Oursler’s video projections examine the effects on human psychology of our mass media-oriented society. After studying at the California Institute for the Arts, Oursler found video an appropriate medium in which to comment on television and about the generation raised on media. In asking whether our popular obsession with television indeed has negative effects, Oursler’s video sculpture takes us to the point where media consumption and psychosis often converge. Tony Oursler has broken new ground in the world of video art by freeing the image from the cumbersome boundaries of the video monitor, conventional film screen and picture frame. Oursler is fascinated by how society immerses itself in technologies like movies, television and the Internet. “It’s a way to experience things that we don’t want to confront in real life”, says Oursler.

Tony Oursler lives and works in New York. He has exhibited widely throughout the USA, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and in nearly every major art museum in the world. In Europe he has had numerous one-person exhibitions including the Wiener Secession in Vienna, the Centre D’Art Contemporain in Geneva, Musee des Artes Modernes et Contemporains in Strasbourg, Stedeliik Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, the Milaneses gallery 1000 event, the Kunstverein in Hanover. His work is included in many permanent collections, including the Tate Gallery and the Saatchi Gallery in London, The Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and the Hirschhorn Museum in Washington, D.C. He also participated to Documenta 8, 9, and 10 in Kassel, Germany.

Greta Pratt’s ongoing series of photographs titled Using History began in 1991. She explores how we perceive history — specifically, American history — through individual experience, notions of patriotism, nostalgia and community. Pratt depicts physical historic sites, re-enactments and museums with an eye to how locals and tourists alike interact with them today — simultaneously capturing past, present and future with warmth and wit. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1987, Greta Pratt holds a BFA in photography and sculpture from University of Minnesota (1984) and an MFA in intermedia design from SUNY New Paltz (2005). Her photographs have been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Spin, and Mother Jones. They are also held in the collections of the Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of American Art, Washington, DC; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Madison Art Center, Wisconsin; and Minneapolis Institute of Art, among others. Pratt lives in Ringwood, New Jersey.

Mattress Factory | Jim Campbell | Paul DeMartinis | John Herschend | Nikki Lee | Joseph Manino | Greta Pratt | Tony Oursler |

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