LA participates in ISEA2012

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Mesa Public Library: Bill Gilbert will showcase his physiocartography exhibit as part of the event

By Special to the Monitor

Los Alamos has the distinction of being designated as a New Mexico Arts and Cultural District not only for traditionally creative arts — visual art, music, dance and theater — but for scientific creativity as well. As a celebration of that blend of scientific and artistic creativity, the local Next Big Idea festival features all kinds of cutting-edge endeavors. 

This month, ISEA2012,  the 18th International Symposium on Electronic Art, a multi-event and exhibit symposium is being hosted by Albuquerque, with programming statewide, including in Los Alamos. 

“In the fall of 2012, 516 ARTS and partners present “ISEA2012 Albuquerque: Machine Wilderness,” a conference, exhibition and season-long series of events exploring the discourse of global proportions on the subject of art, technology and nature. The International Symposium on Electronic Art is the world’s premier forum for advancing exchange and innovation among artists, scientists and technologists. As host for ISEA2012, Albuquerque joins Istanbul, Helsinki, Munich, Singapore, Sydney and other major cities worldwide as an international center for creativity and technology,” according to the ISEA2012 website.

More than 100 artists and 400 presenters from 29 countries will present and/or exhibit at ISEA2012, including many of the local visionaries. The symposium consists of the main conference based in Albuquerque (Sept. 19-24), a multi-site exhibition based at 516 ARTS and The Albuquerque Museum of Art and History (Sept. 20–Jan. 6, 2013), and an expansive, regional collaboration throughout the fall of 2012, with art exhibitions, public programs and an in-depth youth education program focused on teaching STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) through Art. ISEA2012 includes ground-breaking collaborations between artists and scholars with scientific and technological communities. 

The ISEA2012 title “Machine Wilderness” references the New Mexico region as an area of rapid growth and technology within vast expanses of open land and aims to present visions of a more humane interaction between technology and wilderness in which “machines” can take many forms to support life on Earth. Machine Wilderness focuses on creative solutions to the challenge of advancing technology while sustaining the global natural environment.

Los Alamos is participating in the ISEA2012 events with an exhibit at Mesa Public Library by Bill Gilbert, Lannan chair of the Land Arts of the American West program at the University of New Mexico, of his physiocartography works. There will be a reception from 10 a.m.-noon Sept. 15 at Mesa Public Library.

Additionally, at 1 p.m. Sept. 15, Gilbert will discuss the ISEA themes of art, technology and nature with researchers from the Los Alamos National Laboratory Visualization Team. 


 Bill Gilbert’s Physiocartography Exhibit at Mesa Public Library

Art takes many forms and those forms are always evolving. Gilbert has always been an artist closely connected to the Earth and how humans relate individually and as societies to the natural world. From his early work as a ceramicist, to his current practice — his art form called physiocartography — Gilbert has questioned and artistically explored the physical world. 

His work directly reflects his experience of being in the landscape by walking, noting, recording and in a sense, chronicling predefined journeys through writing, photography and using new technologies including mapping with a GPS. 

Gilbert’s work is varied, using a multiplicity of media full of sensory vitality: it is visual and audible ending with objects that contain both intimately wrought musings on his journey and a view on a grand scale. 

His latest series, “Terrestrial/Celestial Navigations  (2011)” is, as he describes, “Part of my ongoing experiment in constructing a portrait of place by walking the surface of the planet, terrestrial/celestial navigations honors the relationship desert peoples have with the sky by weaving together heaven and earth. Each walk inscribes the land with the patterns of stars earlier cultures created to project their world into the night sky. In this series, I employ pedestrian and satellite technologies using google earth to establish GPS points for each star and my body to then inscribe constellations by walking them onto the ground.” 

Gilbert will show several series from his physiocartography practice in the gallery at Mesa Public Library. Images, writing, sound and video recordings combine to immerse the visitor in Gilbert’s world.

“Started in 2003 in the field with the Land Arts of the American West mobile studio, the physiocartographies  series combines the abstraction of cartographic maps with the physical act of walking the surface of the planet to create portraits of place,” Gilbert said. “In the various works from this series, I follow prescribed paths across the landscape using a GPS unit to navigate and record points, a camera to shoot images and a digital recorder to capture sounds. The final works appear as reconstructed maps, videos and installations.”

This exhibit, brought to Los Alamos with support from the Friends of Los Alamos County Libraries, is part of the 18th annual International Symposium on Electronic Art. For more information, visit isea2012.org. 

As part of  the Next Big Idea, ISEA and Gilbert’s physiocartography exhibit at Mesa, the Bradbury Science Museum will host a panel discussion from 1-2:30 p.m. Sept. 15 with Gilbert, Laura Monroe and Bob Greene of the LANL Scientific Visualization Team, and Ralph Chapman, paleontologist, on the nature of experiencing, recording and visualizing data and sensory inputs for scientific and artistic outcomes.

The exhibit will be on view through Sept. 27 during regular library hours. For more information, visit losalamosnm.us/library.

 To find out more about Gilbert’s work, visit unm.edu/~wgilbert./physio.html.