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.
Generous support for Picturing Technology and the companion exhibition 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.
Friday, June 3 · 5:30-6:30 pm
Art Talk: Thomas H. Garver on “They Worked While You Slept: The Photographs of O. Winston Link”
In a richly illustrated lecture, Thomas H. Garver will discuss O. Winston Link’s photographic project, including the technical innovations he devised to record moving trains at night. Garver is author of The Last Steam Railroad in America: Photographs by O. Winston Linkand founding curator of the O. Winston Link Museum in Roanoke, Virginia. He was one of Link’s assistants for his extraordinary series of photographs of the Norfolk & Western Railway. Garver’s talk will take place in MMoCA’s lecture hall.
Winston Link’s full collection of railroad photography together with interactive displays of his camera equipment, darkroom, and artifacts from some of his images can be found at the O. Winston Link Museum located in Roanoke, Virginia. The Link Museum is the repository of all negatives, equipment, sounds, and images associated with Mr. Link’s famous work documenting the last days of steam railroading and a vanishing way of life in America. The late 1950s were a time of great change in America and Mr. Link’s photographs of the trains, places, and people along the tracks of the Norfolk & Western Railway preserve this era with unmatched reality and humanity. Visit the museum atwww.linkmuseum.org.
Friday, June 3 · 7-7:30 pm
Gallery Talk: Jane Simon Discusses Picturing Technology
Jane Simon, MMoCA’s curator of exhibitions, will give a gallery tour of Picturing Technology: Land and Machine. Referencing recent and past history, Simon will discuss the changing attitude toward technology in the western world as evidenced in works by Thomas Arndt, Jim Dine, Claes Oldenburg, Alyson Shotz, and H.C. Westermann, among others. Main galleries.
Saturday, June 11 · 11-11:30pm
Gil Hillman will discuss ways in which technology is simultaneously of practical and aesthetic importance in American life.