A to Z: Abracadabra to Zombies exhibit to be presented at SMU's Pollock Gallery, September 12 - October 24, 2015

Opening reception on Sept. 12 from 6-8 p.m. at Pollock Gallery

Four related lectures and two workshops to be presented in Sept. and Oct. at Zhulong Gallery, Dallas Museum of Art, SMU Center of Creative Computation and Pollock Gallery

The Pollock Gallery of the Division of Art at SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts will present the exhibition A to Z: Abracadabra to Zombies from September 12 through October 24, 2015.

The exhibition will explore the crossroads of humanity and technology, and the tipping point at which technologies shift from the practical into the fantastical; from wonder to paranoia; and from control to subversion. Supplemented by a series of four lectures and two workshops, A to Z will present histories, ideas and objects that ponder the push-and-pull between technology as a potential savior of human existence or a harbinger of eventual extinction. Addressed will be topics such as spiritualism and otherworldly phenomena, the apocalypse and utopia, arts-based activism and the possibility of a post-human world.

Curated by 2015 Pollock Curatorial Fellow Danielle Avram, A to Z originated from a fascination with early photographic processes and their connection to the otherworldly. “My inspiration for this exhibition began with the phantasmagoria, an image-based theatrical horror show that dates back to 18th-century France,” said Avram. “While the phantasmagoria was designed to shock and delight audiences, it also terrified them, and in some instances was even shut down by public officials due to fear of awakening supernatural forces. This inspired me to further investigate the intersection of technology and magic, or the perception of magic, and the inextricable relationship between the wonder and fear of technological possibilities.”

Artists in the show include Morehshin Allahyari (San Francisco, Calif.); Tiffany Funk (Chicago, Ill.); Neil Harbisson (New York, N.Y.); Mona Kasra (Charlottesville, Va.); Amelia Marzec (Brooklyn, N.Y.); SMU Meadows alumna Savannah Niles (Miami, Fla.); Joshua Noble (Seattle, Wash.); and Jennifer Proctor (Ann Arbor, Mich.). All of the artists will be presenting work that exists in the realms of the experimental, the radical and the subversive. Additionally, spirit photographs, death daguerreotypes, 19th-century books on magic, a magic lantern (an early version of today’s slide projector) and a series of magic lantern slides will be on display, all loaned from the collection of Jack and Beverly Wilgus of Dallas. An album of audio “cut-ups” by Beat poet and author William S. Burroughs will also be included.

Exhibition Lectures:

From “Man and His World” to the End of the World
Michael A. Morris
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
7 p.m.
Zhulong Gallery, 1302 Dragon Street (Dallas 75207)

Artist Michael A. Morris will lecture about the apocalypse and utopia. This jumping-off point comes from a lecture and forthcoming book by media theorist Gene Youngblood in which he discusses the notion “apocalypse not expected so soon, utopia not expected at all.” Morris will examine the ways in which moving image artists have responded to technological and ecological crisis over the last several decades and how some have proposed hopeful solutions that also utilize technology in ways that could be described as utopian (meant positively or pejoratively). The notions of apocalypse and utopia will be conceptually extended to speculatively explore social and private eschatologies.

Morris is an artist and educator based in Dallas. He works primarily with film, video and expanded cinematic forms. Much of this work responds to the rapid changes in how moving images are experienced in the 21st century and how media affects our understanding of perception, history, mortality and our relationships to others. He has exhibited at museums, galleries, micro-cinemas and film festivals internationally. Most recently, he has performed his expanded film Third Hermeneutic at Crossroads in San Francisco, the Chicago Underground Film Festival, Experiments in Cinema in Albuquerque, Mono No Aware in Brooklyn and the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art. He teaches at several institutions throughout the Dallas/Fort Worth area and curates programs around the region regularly, most recently as part of the first Dallas Medianale. For more information call 214.768.1222.

Capturing Death and the Afterlife: The Roots and Rise of Spirit Photography
Jack and Beverly Wilgus
Tuesday, September 22, 2015
7 p.m.
O’Donnell Hall, Room 2130 in the Owen Arts Center, 6101 Bishop Blvd. on the SMU
campus (Dallas 75205)

Collectors and educators Jack and Beverly Wilgus will lecture about the perceived otherworldly capabilities of photography. In the mid-19th century, two powerful forces – the march of technology and the gaining momentum of the Spiritualist movement – led to a strange alliance of photography and the supernatural that was the birth of “spirit photography.” From the 1860s cartes-de-visite of William Mumler to the present day, photography has been used to both prove and debunk the existence of ghosts and spirits. This lecture will examine the rise of spiritualism and attitudes toward death and mourning in the 19th century as well as the practice of spirit photography through photographs from the Wilguses’ private collection.

Jack Wilgus received an undergraduate degree in art from the Art Institute of Chicago and a master’s degree in photography from the Institute of Design in Chicago. In 2009 he retired from the Maryland Institute College of Art after a 40-year career as a teacher of photography and art history. He was chair of the photography department for more than 30 years. He is an exhibiting photographer with photographs in public and private collections. Beverly Wilgus received her undergraduate degree in art from Texas Woman’s University in Denton and a master’s degree in photography from the Institute of Design in Chicago. Her first professional career was as a teacher of photography, design and art history. An interest in early personal computers led to a second career as a graphic artist, web designer and computer graphics teacher. Their shared interest in the photographic medium and its history has led them to amass a large collection of photographic images, books and equipment that spans pre-photography to the present day. The collection was formed as a teaching collection that is an overview of the medium and its importance to history and culture. Their plan is to donate the collection to SMU’s DeGolyer Library so it will continue to be an educational resource. For more information call 214.768.1222.

Material Speculation
Morehshin Allahyari
Thursday, October 1, 2015
7 p.m.
C3 Theater, Dallas Museum of Art – 1717 N. Harwood (Dallas 75201)

New media artist, art activist, educator and cultural curator Morehshin Allahyari will talk about her recent research and art projects, with a particular focus on the poetic relationship between 3D printing, plastic, oil, jihad and technocapitalism. Allahyari will discuss radical approaches to new technologies, specifically 3D printing and its relationship to activism and the political conditions of our time.

Allahyari was born and raised in Iran and moved to the United States in 2007. Her work deals extensively with the political, social and cultural contradictions we face every day. She thinks about technology as a poetic tool to document the personal and collective lives and struggles of humans in the 21st century. Allahyari has been part of numerous national and international exhibitions, festivals and workshops around the world. She has presented her work and creative research in various conferences and venues including a TED conference, Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas Museum of Art, CAA conference, Open Engagement, Prospectives ’12 International Festival of Digital Art, Currents New Media Festival and elsewhere. Her work has been featured in Rhizome, Hyperallergic, Animal New York, Art F City, Creators Project, Dazed Digital, Huffington Post, NPR, VICE, Parkett art magazine, Art Actuel magazine, Neural magazine, Global Voices Online, Al Jazeera and the BBC, among others. Allahyari is currently a lecturer at San Jose State University and the co-founder and assistant curator in research at Experimental Research Lab at Pier9/Autodesk.

This lecture is also in conjunction with the exhibition Concentrations 59: Mirror Stage—Visualizing the Self After the Internet at the Dallas Museum of Art, April 10 – December 6, 2015. For more information call 214.768.1222.

In and Out of Love With the Future
Joshua Noble
Thursday, October 8, 2015
7 p.m.
Center of Creative Computation, Room 1190 in the Owen Arts Center, 6101 Bishop
Blvd. on the SMU campus (Dallas 75205)

Designer, artist and engineer Joshua Noble will lecture about critical design. There has long been an undercurrent of criticality in various aspects of design practice, highly prominent in architecture starting in the 1960s and enthusiastically kept alive in the distant corners of other fields of design. It is only recently that this criticality has begun to seep into the more popular and public discourses of digital, industrial, service and product design. This ingress of the political, the inquisitive and the hypothetical has opened up hybridized spaces between the traditional worlds of fine art and of design. Noble will cover some of the history of critical design and its current relevance, particularly as it relates to constructions of the future and the ways that fictional or aspirational futures shape our understanding of the present.

Noble works at the intersection of code, design and science fiction. He blends a product design practice and artistic practice, exploring wearable and embodied technology in ways that approach utility while retaining a critical distance. His work has been profiled by the BBC, Wired, Le Mondeand The New York Times, among others. In addition to his position as a principal designer at Teague global design consultancy, he is the author of six books on design, technology, and aesthetics, and teaches in the Interaction Design Program at the Copenhagen Institute for Interaction Design in Copenhagen, Denmark. He lives and works in Seattle, Wash. For more information call 214.768.1222.

Exhibition Workshops:

Additivist Workshop
Presented by Morehshin Allahyari and Daniel Rourke
Friday, October 2, 2015
9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Pollock Gallery in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center, 3140 Dyer St. on the SMU campus (Dallas 75205)

Artistic collaborators Morehshin Allahyari and Daniel Rourke will discuss their project The Additivist Manifesto and their upcoming publication, The Additivist Cookbook, a collection of open source 3D printer designs. The workshop will include a brainstorming session about the potentials and limitations of 3D printing; a screening of The Additivist Manifesto; and a discussion about additivism, radicalism and the politics of plastic as it relates to capitalism, deep time and the environment.

Daniel Rourke (@therourke) is a writer/artist/academic/etc. His research hijacks speculative and science fiction in search of a radical “outside” to the human(ities), including extensive writing on the intersection between digital materiality and the arts. He is a feature and review writer for Rhizome.org and Furtherfield.org, lecturer in digital media arts at London South Bank University and associate lecturer for the History of Art, Design and Film at Kingston University. Rourke will complete his Ph.D. at Goldsmiths, University of London, in fall 2015.

Workshop by Joshua Noble
Friday, October 9, 2015
9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Center of Creative Computation, Room 1190 in the Owen Arts Center, 6101 Bishop Blvd. on the SMU campus (Dallas 75205)

The Pollock Gallery is located on the first floor of the Hughes-Trigg Student Center, 3140 Dyer St. on the Southern Methodist University campus in Dallas. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and 1-5 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free. For more information, call 214-768-4439 or visit here.