Open Today: 12:00 PM - 6:00 PM

Close Menu

imaginary i

November 11, 2023 – April 7, 2024

Artwork with wavy lines formed by dots.
Michelle Grabner, Untitled, c. 2005. Painting, 44 x 45 inches. Gift of Nancy Mladenoff and J.J. Murphy, Collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.

About

imaginary i compares how artists and mathematicians utilize constructs of the imaginary, or complex numbers, to envision the future and reclaim, retrace, and reveal past patterns. When examining MMoCA’s collecting patterns, there emerges a history of acquisitions that dovetails with explorations of science and math.

Together, art, math, and science explore and seek out unknown worlds and concepts projecting future and undiscovered realities. Artists utilizing mathematical iterative processes, such as Charles Gaines, those exploring modeling the infinite, such as Bruce Conner, and Erika Blumenfeld, who reflects the scientific realm, reveal new ways of looking that open dialogues on potentialities.

Pairing works from the MMoCA collection with contemporary artists engaged in similar pursuits, the exhibition postulates that science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM), have coalesced within the collection for the last half-century. Further research into the history of donors and the relationship with the University of Wisconsin-Madison infers an inherent interest in seeking out the mathematical and scientific in art. For example, renowned mathematician and professor at UW-Madison Rudolph Langer provided the founding gift of artwork that established MMoCA’s collection.

Complemented by humanities-based programming, collaboration with K-12 educators, and onsite activities for families in the Learning and Activity Centers, the exhibition will utilize data visualization techniques to develop conversations around the vital role of the arts and humanities in conjunction with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).


Programming & Events


Blessed is the Machine

As part of imaginary i, Culture Industry [dot] Club will present “Blessed is the Machine”, an interactive installation that examines our relationship to artificial intelligence in the Imprint Gallery. Culture Industry [dot] Club is an ongoing collaboration between artists Zach Kaiser and Gabi Schaffzin.

Within the space, visitors are presented with the avatar of an always-listening artificial intelligence. By conversing with the AI, it infers the content, emotion, and expression of the visitor before sending this new data through a product recommendation algorithm. The process is visualized in the space through an instantaneous display of shifting information. The real-time data harvesting is manifested in a cacophony of screens flashing code, flip boards rattling out information, and printers spitting out a record into a growing pile of paper. Meanwhile, the avatar talks to the viewer about the social and political system that produces a reliance on—and the strange consequences that accompany—the seeming convenience of AI-powered services. Visitors can, nonetheless, take home a receipt that includes a personalized product recommendation, complete with a convenient QR code.


Artists

Alice Aycock, Maxime Banks, Erika Blumenfeld, John Cage, Suzanne Caporeal, Bruce Conner, Richard Diebenkorn, William Dole, Olafur Eliasson, Charles Gaines, Martha Glowacki, Michelle Grabner, Mary Heilmann, Al Held, Dame Barbara Hepworth, John Hughes, Richard Hunt, Zach Kaiser & Gabi Schaffzin, Rockne Krebs, Annette Lawrence, Anne Lindberg, Truman Lowe, George Maciunas, Brice Marden, Owen Morrel, Alan J. Shields, Eric Staller, Richard Tuttle


Virtual Tour


Education



Support

Major sponsorship for imaginary i is provided by Robert Lehman Foundation, Inc. Generous support for exhibition programming is provided by the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support is provided by Dane Arts with additional funds from the Endres Mfg. Company Foundation, the Evjue Foundation, Inc., charitable arm of the Capital Times, the W. Jerome Frautschi Foundation, and the Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation. 


Artworks from the Permanent Collection

Thunder Bay II. Artist: Truman Lowe. Date: 1997. Medium: wood.

Thunder Bay II

1997

On View at MMoCA Learn more about Thunder Bay II.
21st Century Fox. Artist: Mary Heilmann. Date: 1998. Medium: spit bite aquatint with soft-ground etching and aquatint.

21st Century Fox

1998

On View at MMoCA Learn more about 21st Century Fox.
Camp Netting. Artist: Michelle Grabner. Date: 1996. Medium: enamel on panel.

Camp Netting

1996

On View at MMoCA Learn more about Camp Netting.
Tigerton Show. Artist: Michelle Grabner. Date: 2001. Medium: Bleed print.

Tigerton Show

2001

On View at MMoCA Learn more about Tigerton Show.
Declaration. Artist: William Dole. Date: 1968. Medium: collage.

Declaration

1968

On View at MMoCA Learn more about Declaration.
360° Compass. Artist: Olafur Eliasson. Date: 2009. Medium: steel, wood, metal, magnet, paint, and nylon.

360° Compass

2009

On View at MMoCA Learn more about 360° Compass.
Cobalt Blue: Al, O, Co. Artist: Suzanne Caporael. Date: 1999. Medium: etching with hand-painting.

Cobalt Blue: Al, O, Co

1999

On View at MMoCA Learn more about Cobalt Blue: Al, O, Co.
S.F.. Artist: Al Held. Date: 1986. Medium: drypoint.

S.F.

1986

On View at MMoCA Learn more about S.F..
Oblique Forms. Artist: Dame Barbara Hepworth. Date: 1969. Medium: lithograph.

Oblique Forms

1969

On View at MMoCA Learn more about Oblique Forms.
Two Four Too. Artist: Alan J. Shields. Date: 1978. Medium: color woodcut and embossing with stitching, on handmade paper with fiber.

Two Four Too

1978

On View at MMoCA Learn more about Two Four Too.
Twelve Views for Caroline Tatyana. Artist: Brice Marden. Medium: etching and aquatint.

Twelve Views for Caroline Tatyana

On View at MMoCA Learn more about Twelve Views for Caroline Tatyana.
#113. Artist: Bruce Conner. Date: 1970. Medium: offset lithograph.

#113

1970

On View at MMoCA Learn more about #113.
Color Regression #1. Artist: Charles Gaines. Date: 1980. Medium: lithograph.

Color Regression #1

1980

On View at MMoCA Learn more about Color Regression #1.
Color Regression #2. Artist: Charles Gaines. Date: 1980. Medium: lithograph.

Color Regression #2

1980

On View at MMoCA Learn more about Color Regression #2.
Color Regression #3. Artist: Charles Gaines. Date: 1980. Medium: lithograph.

Color Regression #3

1980

On View at MMoCA Learn more about Color Regression #3.
Drawing for Boomerang. Artist: Owen Morrel. Date: 1982. Medium: graphite on paper.

Drawing for Boomerang

1982

On View at MMoCA Learn more about Drawing for Boomerang.
Afronaut Anatomy Autoethnography Archives: Quantum Blackness Spacetime Orbits As Coordinates Of Being. Artist: Maxime Banks. Date: 2021. Medium: mixed media on paper.

Afronaut Anatomy Autoethnography Archives: Quantum Blackness Spacetime Orbits As Coordinates Of Being

2021

On View at MMoCA Learn more about Afronaut Anatomy Autoethnography Archives: Quantum Blackness Spacetime Orbits As Coordinates Of Being.