Solo Show at Columbia College – Logged In/Logged Out

Logged In/Logged Out: The Work of Patrick Lichty

The Faculty Center, 8th floor
600 South Michigan Avenue
Exhibition Dates
September 9 – December 18, 2010

I feel that people know much of my body of work as being primarily technological or critical, as a virtual performance artist, activist/critical animator or New Media critic and curator.  However, one of my deep concerns is the impact of the virtual upon the physical, of “electric” culture (as McLuhan would say) upon people, as the root of my work is in Visual Sociology.  However, the work also looks at form, aesthetics and material, as for over a decade in which I have been interrogating digital practice as being embodied, and not being an ephemeral, screen-based one. This exhibition outlines recent works in virtual performance and animation (the virtual), laser engraved images from my expedition to the Western Aleutian Islands (the physical), and one of my robotic paintings from the “Man/Machine Interface” series (the cybrid).  These pieces show my time “logged in”, “logged out”, and in-between.

The main lobby has examples of work based on performances that I have created in the online virtual world, Second Life, and especially on the Interactive Arts & Media region, I AM COLUMBIA.  Most of the work deals with reflections upon physical experience as well, such as the recreation of the famous Berwyn Spire, or interpretations of performance works like Abramovic/Ulay’s “Modus Vivendi: Pieta”, and the Pre-FLUXUS Happenings of Oldenberg, Hansen, Kaprow, etc.  In other words, I like to consider the connection of human beings to the virtual world in the most concrete, emotional terms, such as or identification with the avatar and its sense of the visceral.  Why do avatars make us feel?

The pieces in the meeting room are  never-before shown examples of my “Ghosts of Adak” body of work in which I explored the abandoned Adak Naval Base on Adak Island in the Western Aleutians, 1300 miles west of Anchorage.  My father, Harold Lichty, was part of the 132nd Construction Battalion during WWII, and for most of my life, he recounted many stories of hos two years on the island.  In 2009, I decided to take a ten-day trip there to try to understand my father’s experience, and also understand its impact upon me.  I found a base that had 30,000 people inhabiting it reduced to a decaying 90-person fuel port that I “spelunked” (a cave-exploring term) for that week and a half.  In the end, I found that the only part of the base that remained from my father’s time was the machine shop where he worked, and I stood at the lathe where he had made a stainless steel ring he gave me as a present to take there.

The Adak pieces are engravings of clay-coated masonite, which involves no application of pigment, but a laser removal of material and blackening of the material beneath.  The removal of the material is a metaphor for memory, as the space that remains after experience is absented.  Therefore, the Adak pieces for me are pieces that are like sculptural photographs which are physical realizations of memory.

Between the Adak and Second Life works is a robotic painting from my “Man/Machine Interface series, which entails my collaboration with a custom programmed robot that drags a Sumi-e brush across the paper, changing direction in response to light, edge of paper, and my interactions with the device.  I then take patters that I enjoy and then reiterate them with a large calligraphy brush, signifying my bridging of the two worlds – the digital/virtual of the robot and its software, and my physical intervention with the calligraphy brush.

Logged In/Logged Out explores my journey between the physical and the virtual, my ambivalent position as a digital native who lives very much in the physical world. It also looks at my identity as a person who is examining his everyday and networked personal relationships with greater consideration.

~ by patlichty on September 21, 2010.

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