Digital Aura
May 20, 2017 to August 6, 2017

Stemming from a shared interest in fostering a dynamic local arts scene through creative collaboration, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (MMoCA)  and Arts + Literature Laboratory (ALL) have created a partnership to grow audiences and increase the presentation of digital-based arts throughout the city. The inaugural joint project between MMoCA and ALL is Digital Aura, an exhibition of single-channel video works on view at MMoCA from May 20 through August 6, and at ALL from May 5 through July 29. 

At MMoCA, the videos screened in the Imprint Gallery will rotate over the duration of the exhibition, with each of three artists receiving a three-week solo presentation of their work according to the following schedule: Laura Hyunjhee Kim, (Modern) Formations II (May 20–June 16); Cassils, Inextinguishable Fire (June 17–July 14); and Adrián Regnier Chávez, I. (July 15–August 6). At ALL, Sanaz Mazinani’s Threshold will be on view from May 5 through July 29.

Exhibition Opening and Bike the Art

On May 20, Digital Aura will open to the public in conjunction with ALL’s Bike the Art event, a monthly curated bicycle tour of Madison art spaces. Meet at MMoCA at 5 pm for an artist talk by Laura Kim. The tour will then ride to the Old Sugar Distillery for a presentation about ALL’s annual OFF THE WALL video art screening series before making a final stop at ALL for a discussion about Sanaz Mazinani’s artistic practice.

Exhibition

Curated by Simone Doing and Max Puchalsky, co-lead curators at ALL, Digital Aura responds to philosopher Walter Benjamin’s seminal essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” (1936). The exhibition presents works by four artists who are re-inventing the meaning of Benjamin’s concept of “aura” within the context of our contemporary digital age.

For Benjamin, an artwork’s aura exists as both a feeling of presence and an attitude of artistic reverence—an “aesthetic experience” resulting from the work of art’s unique existence. As such, Benjamin argued that aura is lost when the singular authenticity of an artwork can be multiplied through reproducible media. The artists in this exhibition, however, challenge Benjamin’s concept of aura. They embrace technological developments that have introduced the possibility of infinite reproduction, and thereby demonstrate the ability of digital works to evoke a sense of ritualistic awe while simultaneously engaging in dialogues of social concern.

Through a combination of sublime imagery, ambient sound, and existential thematic material, the works in this exhibition embody a unique “digital aura” and inspire ongoing dialogues about how globalized society understands and assigns value in the digital age.