BOULDER, CO.- Since the emergence of electronic media in the 1960s, women have been pioneers in the field of art and technology. Craft Tech / Coded Media: women, art and technology explores ties between gender, technology and power through a selection of work by seven women artists: Krysten Cunningham, Susan Hazaleus, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Barbara Hlali, Beryl Korot, Kelly Monico, and Marina Zurkow. The exhibition demonstrates the variety of ways women artists, from first generation video artists to emerging artists, have engaged technology as a medium and subject in their art.
Many utopian claims have been made for aligning new media with new social structures, from media theorist Marshall McLuhan to designers of virtual environments where users can adopt fluid gender identities. Yet, within broader culture, technology and science remain largely male-dominated fields. Craft Tech Coded Media also examines how these artists remain skeptical of assertions about a post-human or post-feminist world that is supposedly beyond the material limitations of the real world.
While the exhibiting artists use diverse approaches, their works similarly convey ambivalence toward the spectacles of power and progress that often accompany
themes of technology. Instead of the cold, dehumanizing qualities frequently associated with technology, many of the works adopt Do-It-Yourself (DIY) processes, from weaving to programming. In each work, technology represents a set of tools that are coded meaningfully by humans.
Craft Tech/Coded Media has been guest curated for BMoCA by Deanne Pytlinski, Ph.D. BMoCA is the exclusive venue for this exhibition.
Krysten Cunningham (b. 1973) is known for her fiber structures and video works that articulate utopian mathematical and scientific theories in geometric form. Her work taps into contemporary revivals of 1960s and 70s-era crafts, combined with color palettes of computer graphics. Through these technological and utopian engagements, she updates the modernist era of science and architecture that was male-dominated. For Craft Tech/Coded Media, Cunningham has created a sitespecific installation, Double X (CMYR), 2013, which is displayed alongside her 2010 video, 3 to 4. Cunningham currently lives and works in Los Angeles, California.
Susan Hazaleus (b. 1951) is a Denver-based artist working in sculpture and digital media. Her most recent work employs DIY aesthetics and electronic tools to create kinetic sculptures that combine nature and technology in order to disrupt conventional binary divides. Her approach to technology self-consciously counters the hard, shiny, industrial surfaces of what she calls the heroic masculinist aesthetic of earlier machine art.
Lynn Hershman Leeson
Since the late 1960s, Lynn Hershman Leeson (b. 1941) has worked as a feminist artist in new media exploring gender constructions and identity in contemporary society. In the 1990s, she began working with interactive digital media, and she is internationally acclaimed for her pioneering use of new technologies. She has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions, and her work is included in museum collections, including those of The Museum of Modern Art and The Los Angeles County Museum of Art. She currently lives and works in San Francisco, California and New York City.
Barbara Hlali (b. 1979) is a multi-media artist who creates experimental animations, often political in nature. Concurrently utilizing a wide range of artistic techniques, Hlali combines digital images with more traditional modes of artistic expression in her films. In 2009, Hlali was awarded Best Experimental Film at the European Media Art Festival for Painting Paradise, the work shown in Craft Tech/Coded Media. Hlali lives and works in Münster and Dortmund, Germany.
Beryl Korot (b. 1945) is an early pioneer of video art, recognized for exhibiting some of the first multi-channel video installations. As an artist, she positions weaving as an ancient precursor to the computer, and her video installations raise critical issues about communication and the proliferation of technology.
Craft Tech/Coded Media features several works by the internationally acclaimed artist, including two video installations. Korot live and works in Vermont and New York City.
Kelly Monico (b. 1975) is a Denver-based new media artist, and she primarily creates site-specific video installations. Her work often addresses gender roles and the invention of identities, with technology playing a pervasive role. Bitches n Hoes is a work specially commissioned by BMoCA for Craft Tech/Coded Media. Like many of Monicos works, Bitches n Hoes draws on pop cultural imagery and the use of repeated gestures, actions and patterning as a means to study human behavior.
Marina Zurkow creates digitally animated, fantastical habitats where human and animal characters play out epic struggles in devastated landscapes. Her projects take the form of video installations, customized multi-screen computer pieces, cartoons and participatory art works. She utilizes the very systems, languages and technologies of social and environmental sciences used to study and record data in the name of progress, but her settings are decidedly post-apocalyptic. Zurkow (b. 1962) lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
Deanne Pytlinski, Craft Tech/Coded Media curator
Deanne Pytlinski is Associate Professor of Art History, Theory and Criticism and Assistant Chair of the Department of Art at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Her doctorate is from the Graduate Center of City University of New York, where she wrote a dissertation entitled Utopian Visions: Women and Early Video Art in which she analyzes work by several artists included in Craft Tech/Coded Media. Her essay, San Francisco Video Collectives and the Counterculture appeared in the recent anthology, West of Center: Art and the Counterculture Experiment in America, 1965-1977, published by University of Minnesota Press.