Contact Zones: The Art of the CD-Rom – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Contact Zones: The Art of the CD-Rom

Geneva, NY — Hobart and William Smith Colleges have opened an exhibit of innovative artwork, installed in the hard drives of three computers located in the atrium of the Warren Hunting Smith Library on the HWS campus. The exhibit is open to the public until May 21.

The international exhibit includes the work of artists from nine different countries. Drawing upon the potential of the new electronic media, these artists creatively apply and transform traditional artistic representations. The artwork utilizes music, texts, painting, graphic design, photography, cinema, architecture, documentary, and sound recordings. Each piece requires interaction with the viewer, who explores different facets of the presentation using a mouse to navigate.

The current artwork will be replaced by the work of additional artists on Friday, May 14. Some artwork contains material which may not be suitable for all audiences.

Professor Timothy Murray, the exhibit's curator, will offer a presentation titled, “Memory Errors and Virtual Contact: The Political Paradox of Digital Culture,” at 4 p.m. on Friday, May 14, in the Sanford Room of the library. The talk will be followed by a reception in the library atrium to mark the official opening of the exhibit.

Murray, professor of English, acting director of the society for the humanities, and director of graduate studies in film and video at Cornell University. It was previously shown at seven sites on the Cornell campus, including the Johnson Museum of Art, three libraries, and The Society for the Humanities. Murray explains that the purpose of “Contact Zones” is to explore the realities and representations of “contact” in a variety of ways. “The show investigates conceptual contact forged between thoughts, memories and cultures; between genders, sexes, and sexualities; between art and literary genres; between commodities and sites of exchange; between expanding global formations and lingering national identities.”

The presentation of the exhibit in the library atrium is intended to create a “contact zone” for interacting with the artwork, and for sparking discussions among viewers. The exhibit is set in a “living room”created for the purpose of this exhibit in order to invite conversation.

The exhibit is also intended to provide a “contact zone” with artists from around the world. It was opened in conjunction with the symposium “Globalization: Who Counts?,” held on the Hobart and William Smith campus on May 8, 1999.

“The idea is to explore the paradox that an encounter with virtual realities can create a ‘public space’ for discussing significant political, personal, and aesthetic questions,” explains Professor Linda Robertson, a co-director of the media and society program at Hobart and William Smith and one of the coordinators for the symposium on globalization. “The ‘living room’ setting is intended to encourage the same kind of relaxed, open exchange in the public space of the atrium that we expect in the privacy of our homes. The hope is that groups of people will pull up chairs around the screens, and that their interaction with the artistic imagination will stimulate critical discussions.”

The originating sponsors for the exhibit were Cornell Information Technologies and The Society for the Humanities (Cornell University). The exhibit at Hobart and William Smith Colleges is sponsored by a Mellon/Culpeper grant for developing electronic instructional materials, the HWS Department of Modern Languages, and the Fisher Center for the Study of Women and Men.

The web catalogue site is: http://contactzones.cit.cornell.edu.

Contact: Kathy Meyer 315: 781-3540

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