Strange New Terrain

Strange New Terrain

Digital + Media students test reflectors at NASA’s Ames Moffett Field in Silicon Valley.

Humans have always longed to see what lies beyond the horizon. In Captured Landscape, a mixed-media research project that launched in spring 2015 and was supported by several grants from RISD, Digital + Media Department Head Shona Kitchen, D+M students, staff and alumni investigate “technologies—new and old—that are intended to extend human vision outward in order to examine the world around us with fresh eyes.” The project has continued into the current academic year and fed into Setting Out, a group exhibition that will be on view at apexart in NYC from January 21 through March 5.

Focusing on imaging technology housed in San Francisco Bay Area research facilities such as the Lawrence Berkeley Lab and NASA’s Airborne Sensor Facility, Captured Landscape critically examines how Silicon Valley has redefined the limits of “seeing.” As accompanying materials for the exhibition point out, “Contemporary exploration centers on remote viewing, which paradoxically creates a greater distance between the viewer and the subject or landscape being viewed. We can now access images of our horizons in increasing detail, but we do not clearly perceive the shaky ground beneath our feet.”

“In keeping with historic expedition narratives,” the group writes, “our fieldwork was documented through a mixture of media—writing, drawing, photography, video and more. We collaborated with scientists and engineers in order to develop instruments and methodologies to capture, analyze and map this strange, new terrain.”

Curated by Kitchen, faculty member Alyson Ogasian MFA 15 DM and Brown alumna Jennifer Dalton Vincent, Setting Out features their own work along with that of a wide range of artists, including alums Vivian Charlesworth MFA 15 DM, Drew Ludwig MFA 15 PH and Claudia O’Steen MFA 15 DM, faculty member Stephen Cooke and current students Yun Hong MFA 16 DM and Tim Wang MFA 16 DM.

“The exhibition will allow for a breadth of exposure and a range of interpretations,” says Kitchen, “highlighting the potential for meaningful cross-disciplinary collaboration between artists and scientific research institutions.”

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