DigitalEyes 2008-2009: New Esthetic Dimensions in Computer Visualization Technology‘ is an art show, taking place at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, that celebrates advances in digital art, including interactive, dynamic real-time works, animations, sculptures, and performance pieces.  The opening reception is taking place this Sunday, November 9th, from 6 – 9 PM.

The curator for the show is Professor Jen Grey.  In addition to teaching drawing and painting at CSULB for more than 30 years, she has numerous art commissions, exhibitions, grants, awards and publications to her credit, including the National Endowment for the Arts Award to Individual Artists, Fulbright Teacher Exchange and Creative Service Grant, and the Professional Artists Fellowship sponsored by Public Corporation for the Arts.

Jen Grey currently works with computer generated imagery (CGI) under the registered trademark JEN ZEN®. Since 1999, JEN ZEN® has exhibited work around the world in Europe, Asia, Africa, and North and South America. Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) inspires the work, which relies on both standard and proprietary software systems to push boundaries between the real and imagined world.  She also happens to be a very skilled player of Native American flutes.

She kindly took a few moments to speak with me about this exciting show.

“DigitalEyes is a fun-filled and mind-bending experience for people of all ages. We have some of the coolest cutting edge-work in interactive immersive technology.  For example, ‘Scalable City’ is coming from the UCSD Game Lab, and ‘Atlas in Silico’comes from the UCLA Experimental Research Center.  The show has the coolest stuff and should please any techno-hearted geek, or any normal virtual human being wondering what the future holds in store. The show also features 5½ hours of popular cartoons from all around the world, including features from Supinfocom, Weta Digital, NASA, and many other award-winning studios.

“It is a great global show, the first international computer art exhibition featured at a major civic institution in the City of Los Angeles. You’d think this would have happened twenty years ago. L.A., after all, is the hub of the arts and entertainment industry, and a mecca for developers and computing technology that drives new invention in aeronautics, weather, and space.”

I asked Professor Grey to speak about some of the unique events taking place at the reception.

“The Opening Reception features a Premiere Digital Propera, ‘Mascara Lotus,’ by MLum. Marco Schindelman [a member of the local artist group FLOOD, that produces SoundWalk and, most recently, MomentUm at University by the Sea-srw] and Snezanna Petrovich have choreographed what will be an astounding multi-media musical perforamce! Normally you’d expect to pay $50.00 for a ticket to such an event, but you can bring the family, and friends, and as many people as you can pack into the car, all for free! Plus you get free refreshments when you get there. Not virtual, but real. The performance is scheduled to begin promptly at 8 PM, so don’t be late!

“We also have the cellUlights at 7 pm doing ‘Sleeper Cell’, some kind of wild surprise HAPPENING EVENT triggered by cell phones. This is an an Art Student Facebook Collective by CSULB students cooking up a post-millenial brewhaha.  Who knows what could happen? They’re inviting everyone they know to participate so we could end up with more players than audience!! Wouldn’t that be a kick?”

There are a number of two dimentional works being presented, and Professor Grey shared some insight into them.

“Well, that’s for all those independent people out there. It includes works of genius by artists who create their own stuff separate from their day jobs, making pictures for special effects, cartoons, movies, commercials, and education. Every free-thinking creator needs their own vision, independent of constraints. So you’ll see stunning work, everything from the laser scan of a sunken ship that’s a 3D visualization of multi-beam sonar point-cloud data, to a raven wearing a bling-bling diamond collar, to algorithmically driven images spiraling into existence as self-generating abstractions. There’s a 9th grader who got into the show with a giant sci-fi battle scene, rubbing shoulders with pioneers in the industry coming from 15 countries. It’s all fun, shimmering abstractions, hyper-realistic landscapes, fanciful creatures, even a “Big Hairy Bush – Hair Particle Drawing Project” (just in time for the elections). Omigosh there’s something for everybody!

“Also there are monitors set up for websites. is probably the most popular photo-posting site on the internet today, with more than 114 million page views in the last three years alone. And there’s the Gold Award winning Eyes on the Earth website by NASA, an awesome educational resource designed to raise global consciousness concerning current issues that affect us all. And just to show how far we’ve come, you can see the SIGGRAPH ’82 show’ the first international, juried public exhibition of experimental 2D, 3D interactive and time-based works by artists and scientists on the cutting edge of a new world art.”

Professor Grey then told me about some of the other work on display.

“TWISTER is one of the biggest laser-cut sculptures ever made from a 3D body scan. Bigger than life-sized, it’s a guy in baggy pants whipping into a screwy giant tornado. Dan Collins is a genius with a great sense of humor. Up close, you can see the layers created by each pass of the computer-driven diamond drill bits.  It’s Great!

“Jacquelyn Ford Morie, a Senior Scientist at the USC Institute for Creative Technologies, presents the ‘Scent Collar.’ For all you fashionistas out there, this is patent-pending body wear of the future!  It is insanely fabulous. I want one. Drop dead gorgeous jewelry that emits aromas.  Oooh, so very seductive.”

I asked Professor Grey how the show came together, and what her role was.

“Sheri KiSun Burnham and I are Co-Chairs of the SIGart Committee with ACM LA SIGGRAPH. [The Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group in Computer Graphics-srw]  We focus on curating special events and shows for the independent artists in the group. Lots of our members are with ‘the industry’, so this is a refreshing aspect to keep out front. The parent group is the biggest worldwide society of computer artist, scientists, graphics practitioners, educators and enthusiasts who volunteer to make all this happen in our time.

Many years ago, when I served as VP for Long Beach Arts, Sheri and I curated the first international juried show of Digital Art in the City of Long Beach, so it’s only poetic justice that we’re still interested in having L.A. catch up with us. Moreover, Scott Canty, the Senior Curator at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, did a big digital art show at Palos Verdes Art Center a while back, so we knew he’d be open to the concept. Plus we trust one another, so it made for a tremendously cooperative effort. The people there at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery are totally tied into what happens in our inner-national community with our international sister-city connections.”

The exhibition runs from November 6th, 2008 through January 18th 2009 at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery in the Barnsdall Art Park, located at 4800 Hollywood Blvd, LA CA 90027.  Regular gallery hours are Thurs – Sun 12 – 5, and First Fridays from 12-9 PM.  The gallery’s main phone number is (323) 644-6269.  There is a Metro Red Line stop at Vermont and Sunset, which is just one short block South of the park.