Exhibit: Let’s Get Digital

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From the May 10, 2012 edition

“How do we use the tools of our age to be expressive?” asks Columbus artist Joshua Penrose.

In “Let’s Get Digital,” currently showing at the Ohio Arts Council’s Riffe Gallery, Penrose and 14 other Ohio artists have teamed up with curator Alexandra Nicholis Coon to display the diverse ways in which artists are incorporating technology into their work today.

“I wanted to call attention to the fact there are varying degrees of technology used in the production of the work. Some resemble traditional media and others are quite obviously produced digitally,” said Coon, executive director of the Massillon Museum.

The intricate, hypnotic weavings of Janice Lessman-Moss, for example, may be outwardly traditional, but this is not your great-great-grandmother’s handiwork.

Lessman-Moss in fact uses Photoshop in the design process and even a computer-driven hand loom to reinterpret the traditional of art form.

For Dan Hernandez, technology serves as the muse.

His humorous mixed-media works pay homage to both early-Renaissance art and early video games. From afar, “Wall Fragments from Nesega Temple” resembles an Italian Renaissance-era fresco. And as you peer closer: Is that guy wearing a jet-pack?

For others in the show, like Cleveland artist Andrew Reach, digital technology makes their work possible.

Reach was forced to end his much-loved career as an architect because of a debilitating disease called Scheuermann’s kyphosis, marked by abnormal curvature of the spine and severe pain. Through digital art, he was able to reconstruct a career and find healing along the way. Reach uses Photoshop to compose stunning, large-format pieces like “A Fisherman’s Net Strung by the Constellations.”

Meanwhile, Penrose is able to amplify the nearly inaudible sound of yeast cells fermenting in his sound-installation “Resonant Carboy.” He captures the sounds using microphones attached to eight glass containers, or carboys, filled with mead made from local honey. The microphones are then connected to a computer running a graphical software program.

“Once the yeast starts gobbling up all the sugar and putting off all this carbon dioxide…you can see some popping happening. That becomes a trigger to the software to generate a tone,” said Penrose, a hobby home-brewer.

The result is a digitized chorus of happy chemical reactions, resonating throughout Riffe Gallery.