Three exhibits that explore the caveats of the digital age will open at the Schneider Museum of Art. "Unintended Consequences: Art and the Digital Age" will feature Texas artist and entrepreneur Daniel Henderson, as well as Shaurya Kumar, a professor at the University of New Mexico, and Brett Phares, a professor at Marist College in New York.
The exhibits will be displayed through Dec. 10 at the museum on the Southern Oregon University campus, 1250 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland.
This show has a conceptual nature, emphasizing an idea as much as the material manifestation, says Michael Crane, director of the Schneider.
"The ideas are complex," he says. "We think the images and objects are attractive enough to draw you in at the visual level and also to the ideas and the content represented here."
Henderson's exhibit, individually titled "The Art of Invention," will be displayed in the Schneider's entrance and main gallery. The exhibit features eight, large-scale stone sculptures weighing between 500 and 9,000 pounds each. The pieces represent a Sculptura phone; a pink onyx Princess phone; a black marble View-Master; the original cell phone — commonly referred to as "The Brick;" a Marconi radio — popular during the 1930s and '40s; a brass doctor's bag titled "House Call;" a black, rotary-dial phone; and a Sinclair gas pump from the '60s.
"Henderson chose to make his sculptures out of a slow material — stone — in comparison to the fast-paced digital age," says Crane.
The exhibit was not intended to be a trip down memory lane. Instead, the exhibit reflects on the role of technology in our lives.
"Are we using it or is it using us?" asks Crane.
Besides fashioning monumental sculptures, Henderson, an SOU alumnus, has been granted 26 U.S. patents. He worked alongside Kazuo Hashimoto, the inventor of caller ID on answering machines, and with Jack Kilby, inventor of the computer chip. Henderson also is the inventor of photo and video messaging through cellular phones.
Phares' show "Undercasts: Navigating Blindness" will be on display in the Thorndike Gallery in the Center for the Visual Arts. Phares created a series of video and object projections, which he calls ambient media art. In the pieces, Phares illustrates an idea concerning media and how it makes us blind to reality, says Crane.
The third show, "The Lost Museum: The Fate of the World's Greatest Lost Treasures" by Kumar, will be exhibited in the Heiter and Treehaven Galleries in the museum. Kumar's exhibit comprises large digital prints and photographs documenting pieces of artwork that were lost due to theft, vandalism and war, including a tapestry by Joan Miró, destroyed in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
In 1982 several museums formed a council to electronically preserve these and other images of lost works, but 25 years later the database was ironically corrupted — yet another unintended consequence of the digital age.
Robert Morgan, a critic, artist and professor, will present a lecture on Henderson's artwork at 4 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 30, in the Meese Auditorium on the SOU campus.
Following the lecture, there will be an opening reception from 5 to 7 p.m. at the museum. Visit www.sou.edu/sma or call 541-552-6245.