Pattern Recognition: Art and Music Videos in Middle Tennessee Explores Expressive Potential of Digital Media
April 29–October 8, 2017
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (March 21, 2017)—Bringing together experimental videos and digital photographs by four artists working in the Middle Tennessee region, Pattern Recognition explores the expressive potential of digital media. In animated landscapes, geometrical compositions, and other invented scenarios, the videos show natural and computer-generated patterns that weave, ripple, and flow in alluring ways. The exhibition will be on view in the Conte Community Arts Gallery, which is free to the public, from April 29 through October 8, 2017.
In their experimental works, artists McLean Fahnestock, Morgan Higby-Flowers, Joon Sung, and John Warren all manipulate viewers’ sense of time and space and resist traditional notions of linear storytelling. Each artist employs slow pacing, fluid transitions between recognizable and abstract imagery, and sound to induce feelings of reverie, pleasure, and mystery.
“The title Pattern Recognition alludes to a computer science term for the identification and organization of patterns, combining data from across the information spectrum,” says Frist Center Chief Curator Mark Scala. “While in technology the goal is to gain hard knowledge of the complex behavior of linked systems, artists in this exhibition combine and manipulate information into irrational patterns that bring to mind themes of memory, mystery, and disturbance.”
Extending the exhibition’s theme of repetition or abstraction as devices to alter perception, a selection of related music videos—produced by or for area musicians and videographers—will underscore the vibrancy and collaborative spirit of our creative community. Ancient Ocean, Hammock, Okey Dokey, Sturgill Simpson, The Mute Group, Tim Chad & Sherry, Cortney Tidwell, and William Tyler will be among the performers featured. These collaborations between area musicians and videographers employ marvelous, playful, and often psychedelic optics to express the underlying spirit of these songs.
About the Artists
McLean Fahnestock finds personal resonance in the symbolism of the ocean, its rhythms and continuity, its role in family history, and its powerful hold on the collective imagination. Her Reclamation series was inspired by the family lore surrounding her grandfather, a sea captain who collected natural specimens and cultural artifacts for the American Museum of Natural History. His ship sank off the coast of Australia in 1940, inspiring Fahnestock more than sixty years later to research his life and the circumstances of the shipwreck. Becoming fascinated with the poetry and allure of the ocean, she began a series of videos and photographs in which its wave patterns are photoshopped onto the silhouettes of sinking ships, distorting the image of a solid ship into a marker of transition—a mirror in space and a hole in time—rather than a form being reclaimed by the sea it was meant to defy. A professor of art at Austin Peay State University, Fahnestock earned her MFA in sculpture at California State University in 2008 and a BFA in sculpture from Middle Tennessee State University in 2004.
Nature is transformed into more abstract patterns in the videos of Morgan Higby-Flowers, who taught time-based media at Watkins College of Art, Design and Film before becoming an application developer at Vanderbilt University’s Department of Biomedical Informatics. Higby-Flowers employs complex coding and cutting-edge software to create sequences in which geometric forms and glitchy landscapes undergo constant formation and dissolution. On virtual journeys through his pulsating worlds, nature and technology are integrated, with a sense of energy and sublime mystery flowing from their uneasy alignment. Higby-Flowers earned an MFA from the Electronic Integrated Arts program at Alfred University and a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
An associate professor of art at Western Kentucky University, Joon Sung earned his MFA in computer art at Syracuse University in 2001 and BFA and MFA degrees in painting from Kyung Hee University, Seoul, Korea, in 1994 and 1996. His love for painting inspired Sung to bring the beauty and purity of Minimalist painting into his video work. The elegiac composition Into Great Circles (2015) evokes various spiritual traditions in which circles and spheres symbolize a level of consciousness that transcends the physical world. Ghostly orbs dance and weave together, overlapping, multiplying, and gently drifting in ways that conflate the microcosm of cells and platelets with the macrocosm of orbiting planets. This luminous dreamscape is accompanied by classical music that enhances its meditative mood.
John Warren’s Notturno (2011) also has a classical score, but one that matches the more frenetic pace of his rapid-fire montage of abstract expressionist images. The film was made by painting directly onto 16 mm film, in the tradition of artist-filmmakers who often mix handmade approaches and out-of-date equipment to create unusual film experiences. As with other films by Warren, Notturno forgoes a language-based narrative in favor of a staccato sequence of images, emphasizing feeling over storyline. The film underscores Warren’s interest in experimental nonfiction filmmaking, the focus of his studies at the MFA program at the California Institute of Arts, from which he graduated in 2012 after earning a BFA from Emerson College in 2002. Warren currently teaches video art and film fundamentals in the Department of Art at Vanderbilt University.
This exhibition was organized by the Frist Center for the Visual Arts.
This exhibition is supported in part by the Metro Nashville Arts Commission, the Tennessee Arts Commission, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
About the Frist Center
Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit art exhibition center dedicated to presenting and originating high-quality exhibitions with related educational programs and community outreach activities. Located at 919 Broadway in downtown Nashville, Tenn., the Frist Center offers the finest visual art from local, regional, national, and international sources in exhibitions that inspire people through art to look at their world in new ways. The Frist Center’s Martin ArtQuest Gallery features interactive stations relating to Frist Center exhibitions. Information on accessibility can be found at fristcenter.org/accessibility. Gallery admission is free for visitors 18 and younger and for members; $12 for adults; $9 for seniors and college students with ID; and $7 for active military. College students are admitted free Thursday and Friday evenings (with the exception of Frist Fridays), 5:00–9:00 p.m. Groups of 10 or more can receive discounts with advance reservations by calling 615.744.3247. The galleries, café, and gift shop are open seven days a week: Mondays through Wednesdays, and Saturdays, 10:00 a.m.–5:30 p.m.; Thursdays and Fridays, 10:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m.; and Sundays, 1:00–5:30 p.m., with the café opening at noon. For additional information, call 615.244.3340 or visit fristcenter.org.