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Contemporary Art



Otherworldly: Optical Delusions and Small Realities

June 10th, 2011 by Chloe Gallagher

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We live in a world that is constantly expanding; a reality consistently growing in size and appearance. Every day over 300,000 new births exponentially increase our global population. Rapid developments in science and technology allow us to see the truths and consequences of population growth, while simultaneously affording us an ever increasing view of the universe beyond our little spinning space rock, assuring that, for those of us who are paying attention, we wake up each day in a world that is both literally and perceptively larger. Maybe it’s the weight of that size that draws me to miniatures, their intimacy and perceived delicacy in sharp contrast to the boorish girth of reality. While hobbyists have been manufacturing micro-environments for decades, the past few years have seen an interesting increase in fine art miniatures. Artists like Thomas Doyle, Joe Fig, and Walter Martin and Paloma Munoz use the materials of train model experts to create surreal 3D scenes, while others, like Amy Bennett and James Casebere build models as material for paintings and photographs. Open this summer at the Museum of Arts and Design in NYC, and running through September 18th, Otherworldly: Optical Delusions and Small Realities is an impressively broad survey of contemporary art involving miniatures, organized into four distinct themes and running a wide range of mediums and moods. Surely an exhibit highlight, the ever brilliant Thomas Doyle has created his largest work to date, a site specific installation spanning two floors of the museum.

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From the press release: “Virtual reality has been a powerful factor in shaping our social and artistic environment since the 1970s. Today, innovations in digital technology have completely transformed film, video, and television: extraordinary special effects and three-dimensional imaging created using computer-based software are commonplace. However, while the digital world continues to expand into more and more areas of our lives, a profound human need to re-experience the actual and tangible has also arisen. It is not a coincidence that as individuals spend more and more time looking at a monitor interacting with others in cyberspace, the pleasures in making things by hand, engaging with materials and techniques in a direct fashion, also increase.

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Otherworldly: Optical Delusions and Small Realities illuminates the phenomenal renaissance of interest among artists worldwide in constructing small-scale hand built depictions of artificial environments and alternative realities, either as sculpture or as subjects for photography and video. These are worlds of “magic realism” conceived and realized through intense engagement with materials, attention to detail, and concern for meaningful content. In this exhibition, the works are presented as dioramas, models, snow globes, and site specific installations, as well as through photographs and video. Otherworldly: Optical Delusions and Small Realities is organized around four themes that provide a context for the works, and offer the viewer a narrative thread that makes the works accessible to our visitors: ‘Unnatural Nature’ features work by artists that recreate natural environments or propose alternative visions of landscape and nature. ‘Apocalyptic Archaeology’ features works that reveal the darker side of the post-industrial landscape and the time-infused eroding urban environment. ‘Dreams and Memories’ includes works that capture and convey states of psychological angst, often in the form of dark and mysterious open-ended narratives. ‘Voyeur/Provocateur’ includes subversively witty scenes-satirical commentaries on art, culture, and politics.”

Otherworldly: Optical Delusions and Small Realities
Featured Artists: Matthew Albanese, Amy Bennett, James Casebere, Mat Collishaw, Bethany de Forest, Thomas Doyle, Gregory Euclide, Joe Fig, Peter Feigenbaum, Patrick Jacobs, Kim Keever, Frank Kunert, David Lawrey and Jaki Middleton, Ji Lee, Chris Levine, Walter Martin and Paloma Muñoz, Didier Massard, Charles Matton, Michael McMillen, Lori Nix, David Opdyke, Liliana Porter, Jonah Samson, Charles Simonds, Michael Paul Smith, Tracey Snelling, Paolo Ventura, and Alan Wolfson, among others.

June 7th through September 18th, 2011
Museum of Arts and Design
2 Columbus Circle
New York, NY 10019


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This entry was posted on Friday, June 10th, 2011 at 6:05 pm and is filed under Art, Design, Event, installation, Painting, Photography, Sculpture.
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