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Vital Signs

Aug 21, 2008 – Oct 19, 2008
Curated by Gary Sangster, Executive Director of the Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito, California, Vital Signs is an examination of traditional drawing and works on paper within the context of new forms of digital production. As the show reveals, developments in systems of representation—at a conceptual, perceptual and technical level—impact the role and value of art in a dynamic way, constantly shifting recognition and understanding.

Sangster explains that the role of technology is not limited to the basic systems of digital reproduction in photography, however, but responsible for an array of processes that affect the creation and reception of art. Emerging through science and research to become standard production techniques, these technologies have become increasingly accessible to artists.

For example, Computer-Aided Design (CAD), which uses powerful graphics programs to precisely plot forms, is now a commonly used technology within the fine arts. In turn, CAD’s virtual designs are employed by artists in rapid prototyping (RP) to create solid freeform fabrications (SFF) through automatic additive manufacturing processes. Stereolithography is one such fabrication process, and it utilizes laser-cured epoxy resin to produce physical, threedimensional objects. Other rapid prototyping systems explored in the exhibition include laminated-object manufacturing (LOM), which cuts a combination of resin and laminated paper to create a wood-like object; selective laser sintering (SLS), which fires a laser onto a polycarbonate powder creating a hard white plastic appearance; and three-dimensional printing (3DP), which solidifies layers of ink-jet powder and is the only method of rapid prototyping through which different colors can be selected.

The arc of art history can either precede or reflect developments in science, philosophy, politics, or economics. As Vital Signs reveals, the idea that art is embedded in broader systems of social behavior provides audiences with power to interpret art and, in turn, recognize its profound value to quotidian human experiences.

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