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Alan Rath: Skinetics    Mar 1 - Apr 7, 2012

6 O'Clock
Alan Rath
6 O'Clock, 2011
 
Read My Lips
Alan Rath
Read My Lips, 2012
 
Watcher VII
Alan Rath
Watcher VII, 2011
 
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Opening Reception: 1 March, 6 – 8 PM

A pioneering artist, Alan Rath has created a sustained and distinctive body of sculptural work, developing signature techniques out of moving and interactive digital media. His works explore a profound insight: that we communicate and give expression to our feelings through gestures, blinks of the eye, movements of the hand. His sculptures embody these languages of expression through his inventive transformation of media technology. The beauty of Rath’s art lies not only in the formal elegance and construction of the sculptures, but in the subtle interplay between art and technology that he achieves in each piece. Just as a sculptor will carve and shape a work out of stone or found materials, Rath shapes the media and programs the image so that both moving image and materials come together in one self-contained work of art.

The exhibition on view at the Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery includes new work that comes directly from the artist’s studio in San Francisco. Like his signature early pieces such as Hound (1990) and Turbo Nose (1990), these works are created as freestanding pieces or wall hangings. Rath continues in the vein of his earlier work but discovers new subtleties in the manipulation of the hand as a sign of expression that speaks to private languages as well as to the gestural reinforcementof spoken language. In Bostock (2012), the interaction of the separate screens suggests a quest for a form of expressions freed from the “prison house of language.”

Rath’s humanization of technology is another profound characteristic of his work. Such pieces as Scanner VIII (2012) continue his treatment of eyes by locating them in a poetic reinvention of robotic forms. Rath’s art is linked to the visionary artist Nam June Paik, who sought to humanize technology in his remote-controlled Robot K-456 (1964) and to remake video into an artist’s medium. Rath’s subtle exploration of the expressiveness of human mouths articulated through movement with his sculptures Read my Lips (2012) and Triple Tongue Tree Too (2011) is complemented by 6 O’Clock (2012), which gives expression to human communication beyond auditory speech. An important addition to his recent artwork is Yes, Yes, Yes (2012), in which the branches of an imaginary tree-creature move and change over time. From the biomorphic to forms of nature, Rath explores with an uncanny insight the memories we have of the natural and human worlds.

The pieces on view in the gallery offer a new step in Rath’s extraordinary career. They have a lightness of touch: he has composed these three-dimensional artworks in response to his familiarity with technology, which results in an ease of expression fashioned out of what have been viewed as non-traditional media and materials. In this exhibition, we see an artist playfully exploring the nature of our new media and our technology driven environment. In the process, Rath gives us new ways to see the virtual and real worlds taking shape around us.

Alan Rath received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1982. Over the course of his career, he has exhibited in public collections including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the de Young Museum, and the Walker Art Center. He lives and works in San Francisco, California, and has been represented by Bryce Wolkowitz since the gallery’s founding in 2002.

For further information, please contact Heather Dell at (212) 243 8830 or by email at Heather@brycewolkowitz.com.

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