Digital Art (R)evolution

Works by Leslie Thornton, Anne Morgan Spalter, and historical works from the Spalter Digital Art Collection

Opening Reception: Saturday October 5, 6-8pm.  

Curator's Talk: November 2, 3pm

-- View the exhibition catalogue 

catalogues are available for $15, please call 508-636-4177, or email to order your copy.


 Digital Art: (R)evolution is an exhibition of works by Anne Morgan Spalter and Leslie Thornton in the context of the New Media pioneers who came before them. Morgan Spalter and Thornton process original source video through customized editing software to create kaleidoscopic video pieces and still digital imagery. The works transform mathematical algorithms into visualizations, raising conceptual questions through technique and content. Historic works are generously loaned by the Spalter Digital Art Collection. This exhibit is curated by Michael Spalter and Isabel Mattia in collaboration with the artists.

Anne Morgan Spalter travels extensively, shooting video, exhibiting work, lecturing and teaching. She has exhibited on a billboard in Atlanta as part of the Billboard project, in RI at the RISD museum, in New York, Florida, and LA, as well as Dubai, Italy and Croatia. Her most recent body of work includes source imagery from Bora Bora. Spalter is influenced by the intricate patterning of Islamic art and the concentric mandala imagery of Hindu and Buddhist art. As skyscrapers, taxicabs, palm fronds, temple architecture, and desert-scapes fold upon themselves, abstract forms and patterns emerge. The viewer, entrenched in the hypnotic experience of viewing the piece, begins to ponder the permanence and solidity of man-made structures and the landscapes we interact with. Morgan Spalter will also exhibit new pieces that pioneer presentation formats for digital work including a media screen coffee table, printed decals and wall paper, and screen “gem” objects. Modern Painters/BLOUIN ART INFO described her work as “dazzling and hypnotic…provoking an experience of dislocation.”

Leslie Thornton is an enormously influential artist and acknowledged pioneer in media. A recent Guggenheim fellow, she shows at the Winkleman Gallery in New York, has exhibited at MoMA, and was featured in the 2008 Whitney Biennial and in Whitney Museum’s millennial show “The Art of the Century”. She was featured last year in Artforum's 50th Anniversary Issue in an article by media scholar Ed Halter.

Here, she exhibits kaleidoscopic transformations of video imagery derived from video footage of fauna, insects, and a new piece featuring the bubbling tar pits of the La Brea tar Pits in LA. The work is presented in a “binocular” format, where the original footage is visible in one lens circle adjacent to the transformed footage. This creates the sense that the organic source material is in control of the abstracted outcome; as a zebra tilts his head slightly, or a tar bubble pops, the transformed image simultaneously twists and shifts. Because the viewer cannot focus on both images simultaneously, the eye either darts back and forth, processing the pure imagery and abstraction separately, or pulls back to experience the interplay of movement between the two lenses. Also on view will be a version of “Luna”, a video triptych that processes footage from Coney Island using visual signifiers that reference a variety of specific film genres.

The Spalter Digital art collection is an encyclopedic survey of the development and progression of computer based art. With works dating from 1954 to the present, it may be the most exhaustive and significant digital art collection in existence. Collectors Michael and Anne Morgan Spalter have lent works to NY MOMA, the V&A Museum in London, and the SVA gallery in New York. They have made images available to numerous texts and essays. Along with works by Morgan Spalter and Thornton, this exhibit includes examples from the collection that highlight over 50 years of innovation, such as the first documented computer generated image- created by Ben Laposky in 1954, and stunning seminal works by digital art pioneers Desmond Paul Henry, Manfred Mohr, Mark Wilson, Vera Molnar, Jean-Pierre Hébert, Roman Verotsko, and others. This exhibit is not only a fascinating and compelling display of contemporary work, but also an educational opportunity for viewers and collectors interested in understanding the development of New Media Art.

Anne Morgan Spalter:

Anne Morgan Spalter is an artist and author whose career reflects her long-standing goal of integrating art and technology. Drawing inspiration from painting, mathematics and Islamic art, Spalter shoots original footage in cities around the world and uses personalized software to develop patterned compositions that explore the concept of the “modern landscape” and work to bring order to visual complexity.

She shows widely and her work is included in leading contemporary collections in the US, Europe and the Middle East as well as in museums such as the Albright-Knox (Buffalo, NY), the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) Museum (Providence, RI), and the Victoria & Albert Museum (London, UK).

Spalter created and taught the first fine art digital media courses at both RISD and Brown University. Her book, The Computer in the Visual Arts, has become a standard reference text. Roger Mandle, former Executive Director of the Qatar Museums Authority, described Spalter’s book as, “a seductively articulate and illuminating introduction to the rapidly expanding world of the computer and art, design, and animation…”

Spalter was a long-time member of the Advisory Board of the Digital Art Museum (Berlin), and has also served on the editorial board of the Journal of Mathematics and Art, and the ACM SIGGRAPH Committee for the Distinguished Artist Award for Lifetime Achievement in Digital Art. She has a BA from Brown in Mathematics, Visual Art, and an independent major, as well as an MFA in Painting from RISD. Spalter is also a martial artist with a black belt in kenpo karate.

Leslie Thornton:  


Leslie Thornton is an enormously influential artist and acknowledged pioneer in media. Her early works first addressed the interplay of cinema, video, installation and improvisation in a manner that prefigured contemporary media strategies. 

She has exhibited worldwide at museums, festivals and institutions such as The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City, The Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, at the Whitney Biennial in New York City, Documenta, Moving Image Video Art Fair (New York City), Barbara Gladstone (New York City), Winkleman Gallery (New York City), the Rotterdam Film Festival, the New York Film Festival, and countless others. She has produced installations for capcMusée, Bordeaux, PS1/MoMa, and Track 16 in Los Angeles.

Thornton has had retrospectives at MoMA, RedCat (Los Angeles), Cinema Project Portland, Anthology Film Archives (New York City), the San Francisco Cinematheque, and the LA Film Forum.

Her work is in the permanent collections of MoMA, Galerie National du Jeu de Paume (Paris), Centre George Pompidou (Paris), and Fundacion Salamanca Cuidad de Cultura, and Fundacio la Caixa (Spain), among others. 

She was one of the most broadly represented media artists in the Whitney Museum’s millennial show “The Art of the Century,” and was the youngest featured artist in their survey Women Avant-garde Filmmakers in America. Her work has been written about by a number of historians, critics and scholars, including Roberta Smith, Anne Landi, John Powers, Mary Anne Doane, Trinh T. Minh-ha, and was featured in Artforum's 50th Anniversary Issue in an article by media scholar Ed Halter.  

Her numerous prizes and awards include a Guggenheim, the Maya Deren Lifetime Achievement Award, three Rockefeller Fellowships, the first Alpert Award in the Arts for Media, and a nomination for the Hugo Boss Award. A Professor of Modern Culture and Media Studies at Brown University for over 25 years, Thornton has been instrumental in building one of the most distinctive media arts programs in the United States and has influenced on an entire generation of media artists, critics and theorists.      |      508. 636. 4177      |      1 Partners' Lane, Westport, MA 02790      |      W - Sat, 10 - 5, Sun 12 - 5