City of Knoxville Tennessee Arts CommissionAmerican Alliance of Museum

February 3-July 16, 2017

Drawn from the extensive Chicago-based collection of Carl and Marilynn Thoma, Virtual Views explores the growing importance of electronic new media in contemporary art as seen in the work of artists who are pioneers in the use of LEDs (light-emitting diodes), LCD (liquid crystal display), and computer-driven imagery.

Virtual Views features a variety of electronic works each of which presents a paradox—it is comprised of synthetic materials and powered by digital technology, yet the rhythms and patterns of its imagery are derived from nature. The featured artists include Jim Campbell, Craig Dorety, John Gerrard, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Alan Rath, Daniel Rozin, Björn Schülke, Jennifer Steinkamp, and Leo Villareal.

Organized by the KMA and presented in conjunction with the Big Ears 2017 music festival, March 23-26, 2017.

Virtual Views Gallery Guide

Presenting Sponsor:

Jennifer and Greg Dunn

Additional Sponsorship:

  • Texas Instruments
  • Thoma Foundation

KMA Media Sponsors:

  • Big Wheel
  • kurtzinser
  • wbirtv


Jim Campbell
(Chicago 1956; lives and works in San Francisco)
Home Movies Pause, 2014
LEDs, metal, wire and custom electronics, 66 x 76 x 3”
Reference video clip:

This is part of Campbell’s “Low Resolution Series” in which he fragments actual home movie footage nearly to the point of dissolution, yet relies on the viewer’s perceptual intelligence to link the bits of moving light into a composition—to fill in the gaps. As a LED light animation, Home Movies, Pause may resemble how memories are replayed in the mind’s eye.

Craig Dorety
(Oakland 1973; lives and works in San Francisco)
Offset Circles—Yellow Flowering Tree Against Blue Sky, 2014
Custom electronics, alupanel, animated LEDs, 24 x 24 x 3”
Reference video clip:

The animated composition is based on stretched digital photographs of the actual subject in nature projected through 9 sandwiched screens and bands of curvilinear LEDs.

John Gerrard
(Dublin, Ireland 1974; lives and works in Dublin)
Dust Storm (Manter, Kansas), 2007
Realtime 3D computer program on plasma screen, 40 3/4 x 34 x 9 1/4”
Reference video clip:

Dust Storm (Manter, Kansas) is based on thousands of on-site photographs and publicly available satellite images. The artist spent more than six months simulating in digital form a ten square-mile area of actual landscape and all its features (windmills, farms, fences) and surface details. The resulting work depicts a menacing dust storm that continually unfolds on the contemporary landscape according to a pattern that, while digitally created, appears natural.

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer
(Mexico City 1967; lives and works in Montreal and Madrid),
Pulse Index, 2010
Plasma screen, computer, digital microscope, industrial camera, metal enclosure and custom software, 63.5 x 37.25 x 7”
Reference video clip:

Viewers are invited to insert their fingers into a small device that reads pulses, and records fingerprints. The recorded print is added to the grid, which becomes an evolving, random portrait of the people who come into contact with the artwork. Only the last 509 participants are saved; each new fingerprint bumps off the oldest collected one. Accumulated, they form a group portrait of a viewing audience.

Alan Rath
(Cincinnati 1959; lives and works in San Francisco)
Electric Eyes, 2014
Acrylic, Delrin, Nylon, FR-4, custom electronics and LCD monitors, 8 x 21 x 8”
Reference video clip:

Rath often uses animated footage of his wife’s eyes in his electronic sculptures and program their movement to reflect particular states of anxiety and unrest. In this work they appear as if a specimen inside a scientific tube.

Daniel Rozin
(Jerusalem 1961; lives and works in New York)
Selfish Gene Mirror, 2015
Video camera, custom software, computer, 65-inch monitor

Rozin creates installations and sculptures that have the unique ability to change and respond to the presence and point of view of the viewer. In this work, programmed “evolutionary pressure” pushes the artworks to resemble the viewer’s mirrored image. The basis of the software in this series is Darwin’s theory of random mutations followed by natural selection as the basis of evolution. The piece cycles through this process every few seconds starting a totally new evolution cycle every time.

Björn Schülke
(Köln, Germany 1967; lives and works in Köln)
Spider Drone #3, 2013
Wood, brass, steel, mirrors, camera, screen display, propeller motors, paint, sensors, LED and custom electronics, 27.5 x 15.75 x 13.75” Reference video clip:

Spider Drone #3 appears as a possible protective device or one that is potentially threatening. This ambiguity is at the heart of the artist’s continuing exploration of military technology, public security systems, and other advances in surveillance technology.

Jennifer Steinkamp
(Denver 1958; lives and works in Los Angeles)
Bouquet 1, 2013
Computer animation, video projection; dimensions variable
Reference video clip:

This mural-sized digital animation compiles types of flowering tree branches from several seasons that appear to undulate in the wind. Steinkamp is interested in the history of floral still life imagery, and the transformative effect of her projections on surrounding spaces.

Leo Villareal
(Albuquerque 1967; lives and works in New York)
Big Bang, 2008
1,600 LEDs, Mac mini, microcontroller, custom electronics, anodized aluminum, 59 x 59 x 8”
Reference video clip:

Villareal uses computer code and new technology in order to present a new vision of art that responds and relates to the innovations of the 21st-century. He programmed Big Bang as an endlessly swirling arrangement of colored lights that calls to mind a glowing cloud of celestial matter.