“Alba Corral: Thoughts in Action” at Generative Art Project
The new gallery screens our present into the future with beauty and depth
Reviewed by Wayne Alan Brenner, Fri., Dec. 14, 2018
Walking into the intimate elegance of the Generative Art Project on East Sixth, you could convince yourself that you've entered a small transtemporal outpost of the Tyrell Corporation. Not because there are any replicants in attendance (although, who knows, because nascent tech may one day render humanoids as authentic, intelligent, and welcoming as the gallery's curator, Julia Morton), but because there are several big screens alive with patterns, like machine sentience made visual.
Right now, those screens are displaying the works of Alba Corral, a Barcelona-based artist. Between the screens and their kinetic visuals are framed static prints of ... outtakes? Of screenshots? Of distinct moments, let's say, from the recorded digital dance of lines, shapes, and colors that the performative Corral has choreographed – has improvised via command-line code, often while onstage and responding to live music.
"This visual control is a testament to Corral's creative talent, coding skills, and technical knowledge of the rapidly evolving generative art movement," says the gallery statement for this latest show. And the Generative Art Project itself – open since September, run by curator Morton and her data-sculpting husband, James Pricer – is a testament to the beauty and layers of meaning possible within this relatively new art form.
Some of the work displayed at the G.A.P., Corral's especially, is highly ornamental, comprising what a dubious wag might dismiss as glorified screensavers. But, you know, there's a difference between the swaths of cheap wallpaper you can buy at Walmart and examples of printed masterworks by the legendary William Morris. And none of that stuff, the ridiculous or the sublime, was quite so engaged with by the artist – bit by bit, byte by byte, pixel by panorama, to blossom like shattered flowers growing and glowing across a liquid crystal field. We continue to revere, almost as routine, old-school abstractions in paint by the likes of Mondrian and Frankenthaler and Stella; how can similar present-day expressions that shift and shimmer before our pattern-hungry eyes be any less worthy of time and attention?
Also, there's denial.of.service – not the systems assault, but the digital artist who goes by that name: a man whose video works are enhanced by, sometimes predicated on, visualizations of data relevant to the subjects or themes he's exploring. You want Deeper Meanings in your generative art, citizen? Morton will be glad to share some denial.of.service projects with you, vivid evocations of alienation or desire or suffering that are ornamental only in the way that Picasso's Guernica was ornamental.
We're trying so hard not to use the phrase "cutting edge" in this review that we're about to sprain something. But please know that whether you're looking for exactly that sort of a visual-arts experience or just wanting to enjoy professionally rendered beauty that moves and can move you, Austin's Generative Art Project is a good place to go.
“Alba Corral: Thoughts in Action”Generative Art Project, 1621 E. Sixth #1107, 917/523-1512
Through Dec. 30