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Bruce Wands
"Digital Salon Chair's Statement"

The New York Digital Salon 2000 A Coming of Age

The 8th New York Digital Salon will open in New York on November 6, 2000. The significance of the year 2000 exhibition is that computer art has finally come of age, not only for this exhibition, but also for the art form. The New York art community has embraced computer art by including it in this year's Whitney Biennial. The large number of computer art exhibitions being held in galleries in Chelsea and Soho is another indicater of the acceptance of computer art.

This year's exhibition represents the entire spectrum of art created with the computer. It includes a wide range of digital prints, CD-ROMs, sculptures, interactive installations, digital videos, computer animations, performances, and websites. Being one of the longest running computer art exhibitions, the development of computer art can be traced by looking at the work included in the show over the years. The first exhibition featured only prints, and much of the work emulated other media, such as painting or photography. As the years progressed, computer animation, interactive installations, and websites became part of the exhibition. Several years ago, a special issue of Leonardo became the catalog for the exhibition and provided a forum for essays on digital art and culture. This past year, we included performances with the exhibition. This year, we are seeing the continued development of unique work that blends different forms of expression, such as imagery and sound, narrative that is directed by the audience, and sculptures that respond to the viewer's movements. Responding to the extensive use of audio and music in interactive works, websites and performances, and some entries for this year's exhibition that we didn't know where to include, we will be adding a Digital Audio and Music category for the 2001 exhibition.

Over the past year, we have refined the philosophy of the exhibition. The purpose of the exhibition is to provide an annual venue for the best international computer art. In the future, we will be actively seeking to include more computer art from around the world. The Seventh New York Digital Salon included over eighty artists from fourteen countries. We are also hoping to take the international tour of the exhibition to Europe and Asia in 2001. The intense interest in the exhibition was evidenced by the 7,000 people who attended the exhibition in Madrid and the 6,000 people who attended the exhibition in Valladolid, Spain. Also, there were features on every major television station and newpaper in Spain. The New York Digital Salon was presented in lecture form in England, Italy, Hong Kong, and Japan. total media coverage for the exhibition was estimated to be about 40 million people.

We have adopted an inclusive approach to the creative work. We received over 800 entries for this year's exhibition. Given the high quality of the work, reaching a decision on which works to include proved difficult. We select a jury of internationally known experts, artists and critics of computer art to give breadth and and a unique personality to the exhibition. As Director of the exhibition, I am also actively involved in chosing the work. The charge to the jury is to select the best work based on the traditional criteria of selecting art. That is, creativity, composition, form, content, execution and impact. One of my (and many other's) traditional definitions of good art is that after I have experienced the piece, whether is be an image, interactive installation, sculpture or performance, I walk away transformed in some way. Another way to look at the success of a piece is the dialog that is created between the artist and the viewer.

In addition to the selection process, we feel that it is important to promote the growth of computer art on an international level. In order to achieve this goal, we look at the work submitted from another viewpoint. That is, to seek to represent established artists, emerging artists and student work. If the show were to only include established artists, opportunities and encouragement could not be given to those who will become the future of digital art; the emerging artists and students. This inclusive approach also helps to provide an accurate view of the emerging trends in computer art.

The imagery for this year's gallery exhibition ranges from the literal to abstract. When reviewing the work for inclusion in the show, juror Victor Acevedo approached the work from a fine art perspective. He chose images and work that represented new and unique creative viewpoints.

Perry Hoberman's choices for installations in this year's exhibition range from the dynamic sculptural work of Amy Youngs' "Rearing the Spineless Optunia", to the playful random URL generator of Jonah Brucket-Cohey's "IPO Madness" to the precise digital timepiece, "Brass Clock 4" of Geoffrey Rogers. The cutting edge software of Golan Levin's "Audiovisual Environment Suite" allows people to create music and animation interactively.

The content of the CD-ROMs varies from the abstract to the whimsical. Diane Field's engaging work "Metamoment" and Scott Furman's work allow one to view and to interact with abstract images and sounds. Ching-Ling Sun's "Long Life for Fairytales" is a new approach to creating one's own fairytale from a combination of traditional stories. This work takes several traditional fairy tales and allows one to chose the direction of the story at several places during the interactive experience.

Performances for this year include Mike Mateas' "Terminal Time", which creates an engaging interactive audience experience. By allowing the audience to choose the direction of the historical narrative by an applause meter, the artists is revealing to the audience that their biases and desires alter their view of history. Jarryd Lowder's Voiceboxes is a digital stringed instrument that plays a combination of music, sounds and digital video imagery. This performance presents a new approach to time based media performance. Since the sounds and images are played back from the computer, the improvisational element becomes a major part of the performance. Video and sounds are now available to the performer in a non-linear way, rather than the traditional linear structure of video and song.

The computer animations range from character animation to abstract three dimensional works. Zachary Schlappi's "Pasta for War" makes reference to propaganda films with a culinary twist. Large armies of pasta are seen marching toward their death, lead on by the dramatic speech of their leader. Ching Clara Chan's contemplative "Autumn Bamboo" provides a more contemplative approach to animatred imagery. A traditional Chinese brush painting is animated using 3D models with procedural shaders. The digital video works offer a new view of dancing with the "Graphic Tango" by Alberto Ferriero and Gunjan' Prakash's "Emotions". Opi Zuni's work takes digital video to a more abstract plane by combing live action with strongly graphic imagery.

The websites are a curated collection that explore the creative use of the internet and digital technology.

It is the goal of the New York Digital Salon to continue to provide a venue for international computer art. As the exhibition grows, it is hoped that the number of artists from different countries will increase. Plans for future venues include expanding to several countries in Europe and bringing the exhibition to Asia. What new forms of computer art that evolve remain to be seen.