The Hawn Gallery presents

Embodied Algorithm: [Re]embracing the Analog

New works by Ira Greenberg

On view: September 8 – October 8, 2017

 Opening Reception: Friday, September 8th, 5-7 pm
at the Hawn Gallery, located in the Hamon Arts Library at SMU

Artist Ira Greenberg will conduct a gallery talk at 5:45 p.m.

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Despair, Benighted States of America Series, charcoal on paper, 42″ x 46″ 2017

An exhibition of new works by Dallas-based artist Ira Greenberg features drawings completed over a two-year period exploring the continuum between computational (digital) and human- (analog) implemented algorithms. The ultimate pieces confront viewers with large-scale snapshots of intimate moments between Greenberg’s subjects.

Below Greenberg discusses his shift to drawing and describes how the analog process helps create deep connections between the artist and viewer, bridging time and space.

Creating a drawing is a multi-layered, integrative problem, very difficult for a computer. Algorithms are quite good at mimicking parts of a drawing process, such as creating a contour line, shading, or even utilizing advanced AI techniques to generate a composition. However, drawings are profoundly idiosyncratic creations, each mark a near (or far) miss, determined by complex overlapping dynamics. An artist’s intellectual, physical and emotional states factor into every mark and decision made. In this sense a drawing is like a time machine, capturing the temporal experience of the artist’s process. Though algorithms can simulate these dynamics with layers of clever randomization, the decisions are ultimately not connected to a human life (though in theory they could be connected to one in silico.)

For me, one of the most captivating features of a work of art is the artist’s hand/intention and the communication felt between artist and viewer, across time and space. Though at first glance this communication might seem unidirectional–from artist to viewer–complex, highly layered works of art–a Cezanne landscape, a highly glazed Titian, a built-up impasto-ed Rembrandt self-portrait–have so many layers of captured meaning that upon multiple viewings the work/artist continues a conversation with the viewer.

The drawings in this show grew out of an analog process considering the translation of computational algorithms, based on some of my earlier code structures. The early pieces began as automatic drawings, with found form and structures emerging over time. This process led eventually to head-like, abstract forms emerging, which then slowly evolved to highly representational heads, based on source material. I never intended to draw portraits. However, once the representational heads emerged, I began to consider the internal algorithms imbued in the process of creating the drawing. Though I am interested in the pictorial narrative vis-à-vis the imagery, I am equally interested in other formal properties, including composition, scale and activation of the surface, through orchestration of marks and tonality. Overall, as with the original algorithmic work, I am still searching for form and structures through my process; though the outcome is now far more layered and deeply personal.

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Hilary & Jerry, charcoal on paper, 65″ x 42″ 2017

Greenberg’s art practice spans painting, 2D and 3D animation, print design, and web and interactive design. He is the Director of the Center of Creative Computation and Professor at SMU, with a joint appointment in the Meadows School of the Arts and the Lyle School of Engineering.

Embodied Algorithm: [Re]embracing the Analog will be on view until October 8th. The gallery is open daily, M-TH 8AM-9PM, F 8AM-6PM, Sat 12PM-5PM, Sun 2PM-9PM and free to the public. The artwork will extend out of the Hawn Gallery and into the Hamon Arts Library’s lobby to include works from the artist’s algorithmic drawing series. For more information, please call 214-768-3813 or visit http://www.smu.edu/cul/hamon.


Featured image: Robin & Sophie, charcoal on paper, 72″ x 48″ 2017
Images: courtesy of Ira Greenberg