Forcing a fusion of art and technology

Oct 19, 2016
“Man Carrying a Cross” (detail) is a 2016 acrylic on canvas, metal hinges, suede (front) ink on collage and acrylic on wood (back) work by Kenny Cole.

Belfast — Perimeter Gallery will open “The Promise of Tomorrow,” an exhibition featuring three recent bodies of text-based work by Monroe artist Kenny Cole, with a 6 to 8 p.m. reception Thursday, Oct. 27.

The centerpiece of the show is the debut of “Man Carrying a Cross,” an interactive installation of 72 small, two-sided canvases arranged in the form of a cross. Each canvas has a URL (web address) painted on its front side, which leads to an internet image of a man carrying a cross. The canvases are hinged, allowing them to be opened like a book. Inside each, Cole has rendered biblical text on the canvas and mounted schematically painted “pieces of the cross” on the wall.

Cole witnessed a man shouldering a large wooden cross fitted with rear wheels passing through his small town and subsequently turned up numerous other instances of this cultural phenomenon on the internet. He mixes new and old means of storytelling to share his experience; and forces physical interaction on the part of the viewer to fully “see” the piece.  Not only does one have to look behind the surface of the paintings, but one must also look away and consult a technological device in order to arrive at the image that each painted code references.

The other two pieces on view, “Flood” and “Drone Legislation,” make use of text sourced from the internet, hand-painted in gouache on paper, that also present a secondary text extracted from the first by circling letters in word search fashion.

In the case of “Flood”, over the course of 320 paintings (a portion of which will be exhibited at Perimeter), Cole weaves together a 30,000 word online comment stream following a Yahoo! news article about the vanishing Moken Sea Nomads of Southeast Asia with the biblical stories of Noah, the tower of Babel and Abraham. As with the digital ocean of words and images we connect to daily, the result is piecemeal ingestion of fact, opinion and myth, and hence, self-created universes unique to every individual.

“I think we are still suffering from future shock. Technology is advancing really fast; it always has,” said Cole. “We don’t know what we’re getting into … Are we destroying the environment or becoming less human? Nobody really has the answer for that, but everyone has a lot to say. And somewhere in there, there is a sort of truth in everything.”

“The Promise of Tomorrow” will be on view through Dec. 31st, although the gallery will be closed Nov. 28 through Dec. 5. Perimeter Gallery is located in Chase’s Daily, 96 Main St. Gallery hours are Tuesdays through Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, call 338-0555. For more information about the artist and his work, visit kennycole.com.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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