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Picturing Technology: Land and Machine

May 21, 2011 – August 21, 2011

print illustration featuring four people, possibly soldiers or military personnel, looking at planes and flying individuals in the sky
Warrington Colescott, A Brief History of Flight, 1975. Soft ground etching, with vibrograver and viscosity inking, 13 1/2 x 10 5/8 inches. Gift of Colescott’s Print Seminar, Collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.
print illustration of various artists in a printmaking studio
Warrington Colescott, History of Printmaking Update: Leroy Neiman Pulls a Screen Print from the series The History of Printmaking, 1982. Soft-ground etching, aquatint, & spit-bite aquatint, w relief rolls through stencils, 15 3/8 x 18 1/2. Gift of the Madison Print Club, Collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.
print illustration featuring various industrial objects or machinery against a diagonal pattern or night sky
Vernon Fisher, Dark Night Full of Stars, 1985. Lithograph, 24 1/2 x 27 3/8. Anonymous gift, Collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.


From the invention of the wheel to industrialization to the digital age, new technologies have been associated with intellectual and cultural advances. And yet throughout the ages, there have been reactions against technology—movements that oppose the advances of science and innovation in favor of more natural lifestyles.

In Picturing Technology: Land and Machine, MMoCA’s Curator of Exhibitions, Jane Simon, explores artists’ reactions to technology in the rural environment. With drawings, paintings, photographs, and prints by nearly 40 artists, the exhibition demonstrates responses to technology ranging from alarm to disdain to enthusiasm.

The photographs of O. Winston Link, for example, reveal the contemporary viewer’s nostalgia for older technologies. Link’s images of locomotives in hinterland America address our collective mythology of westward expansion and prosperity.

Likewise, a series of nine photographs by Archie Lieberman demonstrate how technology has transformed our relationship to landscape, agriculture, and animals. Lieberman’s images of rural life show the realities of farming life, as with a photograph of Margaret Dunbar and her daughter using bottles to feed hungry calves. Rather than separating the farmers from their calves, this technological innovation appears to enhance their tie.

Forced Bloom 4 (2006), by Alyson Shotz, is one of several works in the exhibition that utilize or address capabilities of digital technology. Recent computer programs have allowed information and the storage of information to mushroom, triggering both positive and negative associations. By presenting viewers with “loaded images” that spark both kinds of reactions, the exhibition raises questions about the role and value of technology in our lives.

Picturing Technology also presents works by Thomas Arndt, Warrington Colescott, Jim Dine, Vernon Fisher, and Claes Oldenburg, among others.

Exhibition Support

Generous support for Picturing Technology and The Industrial Modern has been provided by University Research Park, Inc.; the Madison Print Club; Potter Lawson, Inc.; a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts; and MMoCA Volunteers.