Art & Engineering Intersect In The Contemporary Jewish Museum’s Latest Exhibition

Art & Engineering Intersect In The Contemporary Jewish Museum’s Latest Exhibition
Alan Rath, Voyeur III, 2007. (Photos: Blair Czarecki/Hoodline)
By Blair Czarecki - Published on October 15, 2015.

With today's launch of its new exhibit New Experiments in Art and Technology (NEAT), the Contemporary Jewish Museum is paying homage to the Bay Area's longstanding history of experimenting with digital art.

The exhibit as a whole provides a mix of visual and interactive experiences, showcasing art as three-dimensional and active. Movement, robotics, light, and even sounds are incorporated, as are technologies that require viewers to participate to bring the pieces to life.

This melding of contemporary art and technology is perfect for the Bay Area's open-minded audiences—especially Silicon Valley's Jewish leadership, said the exhibit's chief curator, Renny Pritikin.

“One of the central ideas of Judaism is that creation is unfinished and people’s job is to complete creation and heal the earth. Of course, to do that, people need the best tools available, so you have to be in touch with new ideas: innovation in science and other fields,” Pritikin said.

Paolo Salvagione creates a unique sensory experience for viewers. 

Together with artist Paolo Salvagione (who helped Pritikin commission younger artists for the exhibition), NEAT brings a multi-generational mix of nine Bay Area artists to CMJ: Salvagione, Jim Campbell, Paul De Marinis, Gabriel Dunne, Mary Franck, Alan Rath, Micah Elizabeth Scott, Scott Snibbe, and Camille Utterback. 

The exhibition also honors the 50th anniversary of Experiments in Art and Technology (EAT), which is currently being celebrated in Salzburg, Austria. EAT, launched in 1967 by engineers Billy Klüver and Fred Waldhauer and artists Robert Rauschenberg and Robert Whitman, “landmarked the consideration of technology in contemporary art,” Pritikin said.

“Our exhibition makes the argument that in those fifty years [since EAT's launch] there have been basic changes [to the landscape of the digital arts]. First, that the center of this activity has moved from New York to the Bay Area; and secondly, and a little more interestingly, that artists don’t need to be paired with engineers anymore. Artists and engineers are now the same person.”

Gabriel L. Dunne and Vishal K. Dar, NAAG XY, 2015.

As part of the exhibit, the museum will also host four Friday "gallery chats" with Franck, Scott, and Campbell, as well as the SF Ballet School's Wendy Van Dyck. Its film program will screen three films featuring handmade special effects: The Bat Whispers, The Fountain, and The 3 Worlds of Gulliver.

NEAT: New Experiments in Art and Technology will run through Jan. 17, 2016. The CJM is open from 11am-5 pm Saturday-Tuesday, and 11am-8pm Thursday.