For me the Internet has always been a physical space. Working as a sculptor, the first moment I started experimenting with HTML code and viewed the results in the browser, I witnessed a physical installation.
-Jan Robert Leegte talking to cont3xt.net
Notes on a New Nature is a physical manifestation of an ongoing research project conducted by artist, writer, and curator Nicholas O’Brien. The research critically examines and compares the relationships that contemporary artists working with digital media have to practices started in Modernist Painting – specifically the pursuit of capturing the virtual qualities of what constitutes a landscape. How does an artist depict a space faithfully enough to show its effect on a subject? Can art capture the space between the viewer and the horizon, and where does that horizon reside now that we can digitally circumnavigate the globe? Can the digital reconcile the physical?
One way that we know how to understand the natural is through the domestic spaces of our daily lives. The interior shelter allows for reflection on what is “outside,” and as a result positions civilization away from the natural. However, as various digital and virtual landscape permeate the domestic space, our notion of what constitutes the natural has become more complicated than a simple inside/outside dichotomy. We use all forms of digital and analog technologies to simulate the natural world daily, and artists in this show point to how these tools affect the ways in which the “realness” of the natural is no longer as simple as locating it outside your window.
This newfound complication highlights the central argument of Notes on a New Nature: our varied notion of what constitutes the natural is shaped by technology, which is a narrative that can be traced all the way back to the advent of agriculture and the dawn of civilization. Through employment of various digital approaches, artists in this exhibition reference this long-standing problem we face when attempting to represent landscape and acknowledge the ways in which digital technology has forever changed our understanding of nature.
Participating artists include: Duncan Alexander, Mark Beasley, Chris Collins, Petra Cortright, Theo Darst, Marjolijn Dijkman, Paul Flannery, Joe Hamilton (aka Hypergeography), Jan Robert Leegte, Sara Ludy, Garrett Lynch, Michael Ray-Von, Sherwin Rivera Tibayan, Nicolas Sassoon, Rick Silva, Pascual Sisto, Kate Steciw, Wes W Wilson, and Krist Wood.
Nicholas O’Brien is an artist, writer, curator, and researcher focused on the ways in which nature continues to hold relevance in digital representation as well as the influence of language upon the development and use of network technology. His work has been published and exhibited internationally, including The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Xth Biennale de Lyon, the Portland Art Museum in Oregon, and at the Copenhagen Space in London. He regularly publishes and contributes to online publications Bad at Sports and ilikethisart.net and has been featured on Art Fag City, ARTINFO, and The Creators Project.
The Ten Best Exhibitions of 2010: “From Nicolas Sassoon’s blissed out “Fidji,” a projection of rippling blue lines, to Joe Hamilton’s surreal panning digital landscape, many of the pieces in this exhibition conjured a feeling of soothing discord.” - Art Fag City on L Magazine
Three Trends That Defined New Media Art in 2011: ”Notes on a New Nature at 319 Scholes presented an exhaustively curated, intelligent, provocative, and fun look at the relationship between new media art and natural landscape that curators in 2012 will have a hard time topping.” - ARTINFO
A New Landscape for Digital Art: “When we visited the show last week, we were particularly mesmerized by the work of Melbourne-based artist Joe Hamilton, whose video installation Hyper Geography is part of an ongoing Tumblr project of the same name.” - The Creator’s Project
Hypergeography (2011) – Rhizome
November Gallery Preview: “319 Scholes is quickly becoming the go-to gallery for hip digital arts programming … Notes on a New Nature promises to be something special thanks to the involvement of Chicago-based artist/writer/curator Nicholas O’Brien. O’Brien is a central voice in the emerging media arts field and maintains Hyperjunk, a column on net art widely read within the community.“ - Art Fag City