Editorial: LA Art profile July 07 LACDA - Publication: Downtown News Back to Editorials

LACDA  -  New Artworld Discipline

Melding the worlds of art and technology , Los Angeles Museum Of Digital Art has pioneered a slew of innovations as a privately owned gallery since its inception in  2003

From rare show of cell phone photography that eventually found it s way to renowned Pompidou Center in Paris to hosting an annual art competition  for thousands of hopefuls from around the nation.

Himself an artist, owner/gallerist Rex Bruce reveals  the core of  the gallery’s creative agenda, "When creating LACDA I brainstormed everything that could be unique to a digital gallery. We always operate hand in glove with the internet, our open calls and our competitions are global.

We have artists from abroad ftp files, a recent one was from Poland for instance, and print them here for exhibition. We find the artists in virtual space by communication on the internet and it is like beaming in their images and materializing them physically in the gallery. "

Nestled on the corner of 5th and main street in downtown LA, the LACDA is housed in a building originally constructed in 1914, known as the Rosslyn Hotel.

Later converted to become to Rosslyn Lofts, the checkered history of the 1,200 square feet space saw it also play host to a Mexican restaurant, called Casa Maria which eventually closed in the 1990's.

After being introduced to the vacant space by downtown gallerist Bert Green, of namesake gallery Bert Green Fine art, Bruce transformed the space where a bare bones approach. “We built it into a nice gallery at breakneck speed to save money in about one month and opened our first show there in December 2003.” 

Now  with an international list of  client list and exhibitors , the LACDA is a popular stop for monthly attendees of downtown’s increasingly popular downtown art walk. “The space is in our forth year and we are very successful and solvent,” says Bruce.

Prior to starting the space Bruce founded the digital program at Artists Television Access (San Francisco) for which he curated exhibits and created a curriculum.

Bruce received his masters from SFSU in Interdisciplinary Art where he also taught and developed curriculum for many years. His work has been shown internationally for over twenty years. Rex's video "Widescreen,” was featured with a handful of artists within the Georges Pompidou Center in Paris  during the three day run of The Forum des Images "Festival International des Films Réalisés avec Téléphone Moblie this year, otherwise known as "Festival Pocket Films."

This video was also screened for the Silverlake Film Festival "Fringe Fest," at the L.A. Center for Digital Art, as well as the L.A. Municipal Art Gallery.

Bruce says the video short is the first cinematic version of his series of digital stills that involve experimentation with a variety of low resolution digital cameras, “using them as a starting point for inverting the conventions of photographic art and digital imaging”.

"I am interested in the artifacts that each camera I have generates under certain lighting conditions. I only adjust and use print settings to bring these elements to the foreground. As opposed to 'correcting' images, I 'incorrect' images,” he says

“I do everything 'wrong,' but keep visual pleasure and a social narrative on my agenda.” While maintaining his work with these skyward cropped still images printed onto very large stretched canvases, he is now embarking onto an exploration of "experimental film" and intends to create more single and multi-channel looping installations as well as much longer.

Another unique facet of the LACDA is its annual art competition which serves as a forum for international artists to exhibit their work. Unlike conventional galleries, the process is immediate in that images can be sent and viewed within minutes from anywhere around the globe.

Bruce explains, “Every year for 50 years the L.A. Municipal Gallery has held its "Open Call" exhibit where any artist can show up with their art and an entry fee (to benefit gallery programs) and the piece is shown.

“The LACDA decided to launch an international experiment of the same nature where the artists upload images that are printed and hung by the gallery. The hundreds of works are displayed in a grid like installation, reminiscent of postcard art shows of the 1980's where every work submitted is exhibited. “

“The usual, less than democratic) selection process where only the precious few are chosen is turned on its head in a curatorial anarchy where everyone gets to participate and the viewer is literally left to be the judge,” Bruce says.

“The show represents a snapshot of a current moment in art history when digital imaging has reached the hands of the many, an age where culture belongs to the "mobloggers" around the globe.

From Thailand to Texas,amateur to academic, beautiful to banal and beyond the monumental quantity and variety of "Snap to Grid" becomes an aesthetic experience where each individual piece adds to an agglomerative effect that has a life of its own.”

Digital artist August Highland provided a glowing endorsement for the LACDA and the effectiveness of its regular  group shows and competitions. “LACDA's recognition and support of my work has been an invaluable source of inspiration to me In the bizarre and wonderful power-industry of the art world, it's always a gift when an artist finds a curator like Rex who takes a genuine interest in and plays a supportive role in the career and personal life of one of the hundreds of artists that are lucky enough to be able to list LACDA on their resume."

The next LACDA show is by Mary Bates Neubauer running from August 9-September 1, 2007.  Reception Thursday August 9, 7-9pm. Neubauer's current work uses visual information obtained through digital processes to create and record 3D data.


Written by Craig Stephens

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