Google is Michael Sherwin’s muse.
“The internet has replaced a certain actual physical communication and interface between people,” said the West Virginia-based art professor who will be showing at Roy G Biv gallery this month. “As a society, we’re kind of seeking answers or connections via the internet and social media.”
This idea inspired his 2010 series “Searching.” He searched Google Images for quoted phrases that are part of our lexicon — “tree hugger,” “nature at its best” — and paired together the most intriguing, copyright-free photo results. He compiled the results into 8-by-10-inch books.
“It was so fascinating once I got into it,” Sherwin said. “It’s amazing how wildly different our interpretations are.”
To one user in the abyss of cyberspace, for example, “heaven on earth” meant a mouthwatering cheeseburger. To another it meant a half-dressed woman lounging on a car.
“The whole thing was very revealing,” Sherwin said. “What surprises me more than anything is how the internet has become this expression of who we are as a society, a representation of what we think heaven on earth or nature at its best are. The underlying sort of theme here is searching for images that have some sort of purpose and bouncing those questions off society on the internet. Who knew something as simple as a Google image search could be so telling?”
The photographer has employed the internet in other works as well — in one series he took images of the sky and then superimposed people’s Facebook status updates over the photos — but the greatest theme in his art is something else.
“Interconnectivity is the undercurrent to my work,” Sherwin said. “It’s always been there, these micro and macro connections. I’m fascinated by the everyday and how we can find the cosmic in our own backyard.”
“Constellations” best illustrates this point. The series features Sherwin’s photographs of small rocks lit to look like images of planets in space.
Showing alongside Sherwin in this exhibition is Hans Gindlesberger. His performative photographs are part of a series titled “I’m in the Wrong Film” and use the colloquialism as a metaphor for life when it starts to feel unauthentic.
Gindlesberger and Sherwin have worked out which of their individual pieces would best complement each other; however, that fact has some poetic significance. The two artists have not met yet. Their communications have been through — where else — the internet.
Mythical and folkloric imagery dominate painter Laine Bachman’s landscapes, taking the viewer on a journey to a faraway land where animals have the heads of women and frogs have tea parties. Her art abides an unsettling but welcome escape from the real world.
Stop by 83 Gallery to see work from more than 25 local artists. This month’s show spotlights the art of Deborah Danzy, Francis Defects and Buster. Four local bands — Nasty Habits, American War, Pheromones and Drug Party — will play at the exhibit’s opening during Gallery Hop.