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Nineteen Artists Explore Surveillance Technology
and New Ways of Seeing in Foster Gallery Exhibit

RELEASED: Oct. 2, 2006

“Surveillance Sandwich,”  by Jeff Badger
"Dataskins" by Christa Erickson

Artwork on display in the Foster Gallery's "SUPER"vision exhibit include “Surveillance Sandwich,” by Jeff Badger, a mixed media sculpture in the top photo, as well as “Dataskins,” by Christa Erickson, a sensor driven, interactive sculpture.

EAU CLAIRE — "SUPERvision: Responding to the Rise of Surveillance Technology," a new exhibit at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire's Foster Gallery in the Haas Fine Arts Center, will open Oct. 12, with a reception in the gallery from 7:30 to 9 p.m.

A national juried exhibition curated by Theresa Downing, associate curator of the Minnesota Museum of American Art in St. Paul, "SUPERvision" explores how advances in mapping and surveillance technologies provide new ways of seeing and interpreting our world on macro/micro levels. Nineteen artists from across the nation, including Gail Schellinger of Eau Claire, will exhibit works in a variety of media, from paintings, photography, and works on paper, to sculpture, video projection, interactive art, and installation art.

Artists with works in this exhibit are Collin Asmus, Boston; Jeff Badger, South Portland, Maine; Chris Basmajian, San Francisco; William Betts, Houston; Jaron Childs, Minneapolis; Christa Erickson, Stony Brook, New York; Matthew Garrison, Downingtown, Pa.; Glenn Grafelman, Minneapolis; Patrick Grenier, Hoboken, New Jersey; Nathaniel Hein, Memphis, Tenn.; J.J. Higgins, Gainesville, Fla.; Sherry Karver, Oakland, Calif.; Lori Kella, Cleveland; Margaret Keller, St. Louis; Samantha Krukowski, Austin, Texas; Margaret Leininger, Oak Park, Ill.; Schellinger; Benjamin Stern, Melrose; and Nathan Westerman, Champaign, Ill.

According to Downing, who conceived the idea for the show and chose the images, the use of surveillance for security purposes has reached a heightened level in this post-9/11 world. Video surveillance cameras populate our transportation routes, places of employment and cities. Around the clock, satellites on orbital paths above the earth collect detailed images of neighborhoods, the countryside and beyond. Data from our daily transactions, interactions, and about our bodies is being collected and interpreted.

"Artists today are questioning the role of surveillance and its affect on our daily consciousness," said Downing. "They are concerned with issues of privacy and are exploring the phenomena of both watching and being watched. Detailed paintings in the show depict scenes from internet web cams; hidden video camera-stills reveal private interactions in public places; and watercolors show brightly-colored birds nesting amongst cables and surveillance cameras.

"Some works in the exhibition utilize live surveillance footage from within the gallery in unexpected ways." Downing said. "One interactive work encourages museum goers to perform a security check on their own belongings while being watched via infrared camera, and another takes 'Big Brother' to the extreme by allowing viewers to place a collar with a video camera attached to it around their neck, capturing an up-close live video of the wearer's face."

Downing believes that viewing technologies also can provide fascinating and beautiful visual imagery of the earth, of outer space or of sub-atomic structures, but some artists are questioning the veracity of these images and their ability to communicate understandable information, she said. Some artworks in the exhibition examine how these images can change the way we perceive the interior of the body or dehumanize cities when seen from satellites. Some photographs in the exhibition of ice sheets seen through clouds and cities viewed from space at night, upon closer inspection, turn out to be carefully crafted simulations. Two digital video works use spy satellite footage from the U.S. Department of Defense to comment on the use of this technology for purposes of war.

"The artwork selected for 'SUPERvision' examines the state of our visually mappable world, explores the psychological experience of voyeurism from both sides of the lens, and leaves us to ponder the boundaries of privacy and the role of security," Downing said.

Downing will give a juror's presentation at 10 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 26, in the Foster Gallery.

Foster Gallery hours are 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 6-8 p.m. Thursday evening and 1-4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

For more information about "SUPERvision," contact Downing at 612-414-3649. For information about other gallery exhibits, call Foster Gallery director Tom Wagener at 715-836-2328.

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NW

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