Tuesday, August 09, 2016


Caleb Shafer
Earth Delete Install

ModernDallas.net repost of my article

The University of Texas at Dallas, in Richardson, has an Master of Fine Arts degree in Arts and Technology. It is an unusual MFA in that this degree focuses on the interplay between arts and technology rather than traditional studio programs. Born out of the Arts and Humanities program, the ATEC classes have recently left the nest to become a new department. So, what kind of artists are being produced in this program? Some students are pursuing 3D computer animation, game design, and data visualization, to name a few. However, a few are creating visual art that appears in art galleries, art centers, and museums. I have highlighted a few here that are making some interesting work.

Video art has a short history, and like painting, the styles and subjects are diverse. They range from realistic depictions of people and places to pure abstractions. Sarah Rachel Larson in her series BackStage/OnStage, takes moments in time that are not particularly significant and creates videos. These videos are slices of life, like drinking from a cup, watching a screen, or tieing your shoe. Jessie Porter is also a video artist. Porter is interested in short bursts of movement. She is influenced by the 1980’s underground film artists in New York known as the Cinema of Transgression. However, the short clips, stark black and white, and dramatic movement strike me as more early 1900’s film test. Some of Porter’s earlier films are more kitschy and darker in content, like Hermann Nitsch and the Orgien Mysterien Theater dark.

Caleb Shafer is a video artist that often incorporates well thought out installation to bring a bit more than just a screen or projection. Shafer creates abstract art out of found film that has some negative or kitsch content. He is taking it a bit further than Richard Prince by stripping away the ad information present an image. Shafer uses analog and digital methods to remove all the violent or sexual content to uncover the abstract and beautiful elements left behind.

Cynthia Ann Miro works in video, but her still images first captured my attention. Miro likes to misuse apps and programs to pull out distorted images. For example, she uses an old version of Instagram where she purposely uploads images in the wrong shape so the she gets a distortion, or what she calls a digital slur. Because she uses the found grids on all these media platforms, I couldn’t help but see the influence of Piet Mondrian’s later work.

Liz Trosper makes colorful photo-collages that use paper and wires that seem to reflect the now, the way a Cezanne still life painting captured late 19th century. Only instead of fruit, Trosper is depicting garbage. Her musing on our throwaway society isn’t apocalyptic, but rather pleasing to the eye. Her series of 100 drawings is like simplistic wireframes. She attempts to draw the essence of shapes found outside CentralTrak.

At the last minute, Heather Charlet was suggested for a mention, so I contacted her and she sent over a few videos. Girl Bathroom Shenanigans with Overlay engaged me a great deal because of all the bathroom wall writings competing with the girls’ conversation. I had to watch it over again just to try to catch everything. Much of her work uses internal dialogue that is uncensored and thus feels authentic.

Caleb Shafer will have his MFA thesis show at CentralTrak on August 20th. Cynthia Ann Miro has an upcoming show at RO2’s Magnolia Gallery on August 25th.

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