Group Exhibition: "The World Unseen"

Doilies and Blank Stare will be on view in The World Unseen at the CDC Museum (Atlanta) from May 20 – August 30, 2019.

The World Unseen: Intersections of Art and Science
Curated by Louise E. Shaw
May 20 – August 30, 2019
David J. Sencer CDC Museum, Atlanta, GA 
In Association with the Smithsonian Institution

About the work on view

Doilies (2004)

Doilies re-examines the lace doily as an innocuous domestic artifact that traditionally references motifs from nature. The design of each doily in the series is based on a different virus (HIV, SARS, Influenza, Herpes, Hepadna). The radial symmetry of the doily form is conflated with that of the enveloped virus structure. The project explores the “domestication” of microbial and biomedical imagery in the quotidian landscape. Bio-terrorism, health epidemics, and anti-microbial products alike have heightened our awareness of the microbial world. The project materializes the notion that an heirloom artifact can manifest the psychological heredity of cultural anxieties. VIEW WORK

Blank Stare (2016)

Blank Stare is a series of laser etchings on paper that integrate waveforms of fluctuating levels of attention recorded with an electroencephalogram (EEG) sensor. The fine lines burned into the paper in a repeated radial pattern create a visual focal point in the center of each etching. Each print in the series repeats a single EEG waveform recorded while the artist stared at a blank sheet of watercolor paper for sixty seconds. VIEW WORK

Material Connections

My early work prior to Doilies (2004) was particularly invested in medical imaging (microscopic, x-ray) and instrumentation (diagnostic, surgical, prosthetics). Much of my work at this time had a decidedly institutional aesthetic often using stainless display furniture or clinical artifacts. I was interested in continuing this exploration of culturally constructed notions around the body with a different aesthetic approach. I began to work more and more with textiles and craft processes as a way to foil the clinical images and artifacts of my work. I increasingly began to use needlework and sewing in often very experimental ways (knitting with vinyl tubing). I was introduced to computerized machine embroidery and was immediately intrigued by the materiality and technology of it. The computerized process allowed me a level of detailed representation of the viral structure that I could not have achieved by hand. The decorative quality of the radial doily form in the Doilies series serves as camouflage for the unsettling virus it illustrates. The series presents a multilayered experience that unfolds for the viewer on their own terms allowing them to move between narratives relating to the topical and historical, scientific and domestic, comfort and discomfort, hand-made and machine-made.

Since creating the Doilies series I have worked increasingly with digital fabrication techniques. With each new combination of process, material and technology I find new inspiration. I have since worked with a variety of computerized craft techniques in experimental ways including embroidery on remnant cosmetic facial peel, creating software generated patterns for computerized weavings, and creating data-driven 3D printed sculptures. The use of physical computing and the creating of custom software has become an increasing part of my recent practice. I often use microcontrollers with biosensors to collect data from my own body as I perform bodily movements in the studio or in live performance.  

The Blank Stare (2016) series is part of this recent body of work. The series uses electroencephalogram (EEG) data collected while I stared at a blank sheet of paper. The EEG data recorded my fluctuating level of attention as my thoughts wandered from mundane noises outside my studio, to unfolding personal and global dramas. The data from each recording was used to generate a waveform that was then arranged in a radial pattern to be burned into paper with a laser etching process.  

My work with digital fabrication techniques continues to allow me to work with materials and their meaning in ways that I find endlessly intriguing. The simultaneous presence of technology and material seems crucial to a thorough examination of the human body and our culturally constructed notions around its contested function and dysfunction. As I work increasingly with data as material, my aesthetics have employed abstraction increasingly as another mode of camouflage for the unsettling realities of our interior biological worlds. READ MORE