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The Blue & Gray Press | February 21, 2018

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Virtual Puppets and an Oil-Spill Map Highlight New Multimedia Art Show

Virtual Puppets and an Oil-Spill Map  Highlight New Multimedia Art Show

By HANNAH MILLER

The University of Mary Washington Galleries held the opening of its newest exhibition, “Computer Pictures: The Contemporary Language of Digital Media,” Thursday evening of last week.

“I wanted to expose the campus and Fredericksburg communities to what digital media can be,” Rosemary Jesionowski, guest curator and assistant professor of art, said.

Jesionowski, who teaches digital media, photography and printmaking, was very excited to present UMW’s first digital show.

“This exhibition is a dream come true,” Jesionowski said.

The opening of the digital media exhibit was held in both the Ridderhof Martin and duPont galleries and included a variety of computer-produced work that is classified as digital media artwork.

The exhibit explores new media in the last few years.

One piece featured in the Ridderhof Martin Gallery is called “Channels,” by artist Ian Whitmore, who is currently an assistant professor of art at Portland State University. The piece depicts a living space in which the resident is displayed on a TV screen.

According to Whitmore, “Channels” was his reaction to reality television and how reality television was a misrepresentation of reality.

“The pictures are reflective of who we are and what we are interested in,” Whitmore said. “The use of the television is to show the people, but the television doesn’t tell you about the person. The space does.”

One of the works in the duPont Gallery, which artist Belinda Haikes called “Dispersing Utopia,” was inspired by the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico this past summer.

“The [oil spill] in the Gulf of Mexico allowed corporations to take over places that are idyllic,” said Haikes, a visiting assistant professor of design at UNC-Greensboro. “So I Googled  10 places in the United States called Utopia, Arcadia or Eden and mapped outlines of the oil spill. I then placed the oil spill shape from that day on top of the land.”

The opening also included a visual puppetry performance, “Parting on Z,” at the opening, which featured artist Semi Ryu interacting with a virtual puppet. The puppet faced her and when she spoke and moved, the puppet would mirror her motions.

The performance explored Han, a Korean cultural trait that refers to the paradoxical state of consciousness that combines grief with great hope and a desire to overcome difficult situations.

During the exhibition, the virtual puppets will be open to gallery visitors for interaction.

Junior Melodie Stehling thought the virtual puppet show was amazing.

“I am interested in computer graphics, art design and music,” Stehling said. “The three dimensions use more of your senses and deepen your understanding. I felt her passion.”

Senior Michael Drayer felt that the exhibitions at the UMW Galleries should be advertised more.

“I enjoy the galleries, [but] most of my friends don’t know much about them,” Drayer said. “ I have to tell my friends to go.”

“The Contemporary Language of Digital Media” is available for viewing in the duPont and Ridderhof Martin Galleries from Friday, Oct. 29, to Friday, Dec. 3.