Artist Talk for Syracuse University September 2015

I always made art: paintings, drawings, sculptures, constructions: out of paper, clay, wood, and paint on anything. I never thought of myself as an artist. I grew up in the country and spent as much time outdoors in the woods and fields as possible: the Catskills and the corn fields.

As a child I took painting classes with several artists in Woodstock. Later I moved to New York, where, in the early 70’s I found myself a member of a group of artists who painted large abstract color field and abstract expressionist paintings. The first colleague’s museumexhibition that I attended was Jules Olitski’s retrospective at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts curated by Ken Moffett. At the time it seemed a natural progression from young artist to more senior successful artist. In retrospect this was a pretty distorted look at what the art world was like. 

Print1.jpg
 

So I started painting large canvasses on the floor and attending the New York Studio School for Drawing, Painting and Sculpture, where we worked from the model all day, every day - in paint, charcoal or clay, and had art history lectures every evening. Saturdays we all went to the art galleries to see the shows, often our friends’ exhibitions.

New York Studio School study in clay

New York Studio School study in clay

 

In addition we always went to see the interesting exhibitions at the museums: the Met, The Whitney, and Guggenheim. as a student, I copied a Zurbaran at the Met - very traditional stuff. I had the wonderful opportunity of learning to see with Clement Greenberg who often took a group of artists with him to museum exhibitions and artist’s studios for crits.  

So fast forward a few years … I decided that the leading artists of each generation were using the latest technology available to them to make their art. I probably can’t defend this position now … but it was what I believed at the time.  So taking myself completely seriously, assuming that I my goal was to become one of the leading artists of my generation, I set out to find the latest technology that I could use to make art.  It turned out that video and computer graphics were both just being invented at that time. In the late 1970’s I started using computers in the research labs where they were inventing computer graphics: NYIT, and SynthaVision (most of the animation for movie Tron was done at this lab) to name two labs. 
I was invited to make presentations to Muriel Cooper’s students at the MIT Media Lab and brought Ron McNeil a huge sheet of handmade deckle edged paper from New York Art Supply, for his billboard size plotter.
So here I was, a country girl, living in the big city, spending nights on the computer in computer graphics labs where they were developing computer graphics and animation technology. I loved the way I could manipulate and control color on the computer.

(Early demonstration of Alvy Ray Smith’s fill algorithm)

(Early demonstration of Alvy Ray Smith’s fill algorithm)

 

Then I had a big problem.  How could I get the images I created on a computer into some physical medium?  Today it’s trivial. Then there were no color printers, just color plotters that could draw lines but no color areas. The systems I was using only existed in a few research labs and each was unique. This was before Apple, before Adobe, and before the personal computer. There were no laptops or tablets or Internet. The digital age hadn’t quite arrived. And the “Art World” wanted nothing to do with so called “computer art.”

 (3M Scanamural 9’x 12’)

 (3M Scanamural 9’x 12’)

 

I put my images onto ceramic tiles using screened glazes, made large photographic prints and by taking various separations of the images on the computer, created viscosity etchings and silkscreen prints on paper.

(Ceramic tiles 12” x 12”/ tile)

(Ceramic tiles 12” x 12”/ tile)

 
(Digital image for Viscosity Etching)

(Digital image for Viscosity Etching)

Viscosity Etching

Viscosity Etching

 

Film seemed to be the best transfer medium (that’s what I called it) and I was able to output my computer images onto 35mm slides which I then projected onto wall size canvases and made paintings by mixing the acrylic paint to match the colored light.

This evolved into using photographs and abstracting elements from them to use on the computer; abstracting photographs of nature… using the structure of the image and not the color to create the computer image, then taking separations of various sorts and projecting those onto canvas, adding the color in acrylic on the canvas. So the computer images I projected ended up being black and white and all the color was done with Golden acrylic paint.

(Paintings on Canvas early 1990’s)

(Paintings on Canvas early 1990’s)

 
(Studio shot)

(Studio shot)

 

I also continued to do what I call “thought portraits” using a stream of consciousness drawing process not unlike Pollack’s use of line. I separate line and color to create visually dense and often ambiguous space on the picture plane.

(Silkscreen mono-prints 2014-15)

(Silkscreen mono-prints 2014-15)

 

I am currently making both paintings on canvas and silkscreen mono-prints on paper and canvas. Both involve experimentation with images drawn and manipulated on the computer. I have been using computers to make art for more than 35 years and my image creation methodologies continue to evolve. I appreciate many artists’ work and learn from many of them.  Olitski, Pollack, Frankenthaler and Kandinsky are a few of my key influences. A recent show in New York, of the sculptor, Willard Boepple’s silkscreen prints, motivated me to make my most recent silkscreen mono-prints.

Having been invited to be a visiting Artist at Syracuse University, I am now exploring mixed media with ceramics, wood, canvas and silkscreen printing.

My work with computer images was before it’s time,  I would particularly like to show my paintings from the 1980’s and early 1990’s which I believe are now more in tune with current sensibilities.

Darcy Gerbarg

 

Short Bio 2015

I have been making art with computers since 1979 and for many years exhibited my work internationally. 

I’ve been a Senior Fellow at the Columbia Institute for Tele Information (CITI), Columbia University Business School since 1997 and am a past Executive Director The Marconi Society, Inc.  I am currently the Director of Operations for CineGrid, Inc. whose members conduct experiments with very large media files over fiber optic networks, Immersive environments including Caves, and advanced audio technologies.

From 1980 to 2013 I was an adjunct professor and consultant at several universities. My introduction to digital media, 1979 through the mid 1980’s, was working as an artist in the research labs, including Magi SynthaVision and NYIT, that were developing the first computer graphics software tools: paint systems, 3D modeling, 2D and 3D computer animation.

In January 2014 I became the Associate Editor for the International Journal of Digital Television, with Intellect. I am also currently the series editor for The Economics of Information, Communication and Entertainment: The Impacts of Digital Technology in the 21st Century, with Springer.