Material Expressions

Splan’s work has been included in solo and group exhibitions at Museum
of Art & Design (New York, NY), Museum of Contemporary Craft (Portland, OR), Neuberger Museum of Art (Purchase, NY) and Beall Center for Art + Technology (Irvine, CA). Her work has been exhibited internationally in Iceland, South Korea, England, Germany, Sweden, France, and beyond. Commissioned projects for her work have included soap residue paintings for the Center for Disease Control, computerized lace doilies for the Gen Art New Media Art Exhibition, and hybrid porcelain/3D-printed sculptures for Davidson College. Her work is included in the collections of the Thoma Art Foundation, Institute for Figuring, and the UC San Francisco Infectious Disease Department.

Reviews and articles including her work have appeared in The New York Times, Village Voice, American Craft, and Discover Magazine. Splan’s essays and interviews have been published in Art Practical, SciArt in America and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. She received a Jerome Foundation Grant for research at venues including the Wellcome Museum (London, UK) and La Specola (Florence, IT). She has been awarded artist residencies and fellowships at the subnetAIR Physical Computing Residency, Vermont Studio Center, and Kala Art Institute. Splan has spoken widely at a variety of venues including University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Exploratorium (San Francisco, CA), California College of Art, The Center for Human-Computer Interaction (Austria) and Maryland Institute College of Art. She has been a visiting lecturer teaching courses on intersections of Art, Science, and Technology at Stanford University, Mills College, University of Maine, and Illinois State University. She lives and works in Brooklyn, NY in a building that has been both a pharmaceutical factory and a knitting factory where she spends her days needling the past and poking the future.

Artist Talk Thursday, January 12th, 6pm
Reception Friday, January 13th, 6-8pm

Exhibition January 13th – February 11th, 2016

“Material Expressions” features Laura Splan’s most recent work in which she uses biosensors to create data driven forms and patterns for sculptures, tapestries and works on paper. Splan is an interdisciplinary artist working at the intersections of art, science, technology and craft. Her conceptually based projects examine the material manifestations of our cultural ambivalence towards the human body with a range of traditional and new media techniques. Much of her work is inspired by experimenting with materials and
process including digital fabrication, medical diagnostics and textiles, which she mines for their narrative and untapped potentials.

The “Manifest” sculptures, “Embodied Objects” tapestries and “Recursive Expressions” prints include data-driven forms and patterns based on EMG (electromyogram) readings of fluctuating levels of electricity in muscles in the artist’s own body. Neuromuscular activities associated with experiences of wonder were performed as facial expressions and bodily movements (smiling in delight, blinking twice in disbelief, squinting to see better). Each activity produced unique data captured by an EMG device. The artist translated the numerical data into a curve using a custom computer program.

For “Manifest”, Splan used the curves as profiles for a series of 3D-printed sculptures. For “EmbodiedObjects” and “Recursive Expressions” the EMG data was visualized in a custom computer program that was written to repeat, rotate, and randomly colorize the EMG waveforms to create unique patterns for the computerized jacquard woven tapestries and giclée prints.

The exhibition will also include new laser etchings on watercolor paper that integrate waveforms of fluctuating levels of attention recorded with an EEG (electroencephalogram) sensor. The fine lines burned into the paper in a repeated radial pattern create a visual focal point in the center of each etching. Each print in the “Blank Stare” series repeats a single EEG waveform recorded while the artist started at a blank sheet of watercolor paper for sixty seconds.