Laura Splan and Gail Wight

Raw Material, May 2016 

For our May exhibition, Grizzly Grizzly has invited two artists whose works strike an intriguing balance between data-driven analysis, scientific exploration, and chance. The works in the exhibition start with data as the "Raw Material," yet diverge in how that data is used. While Wight's works on paper subvert the orderly graphs of the mouse genome and embrace the entropy created by a live mouse's meanderings, Splan's work harnesses data collected from human expressions, and uses it to create strange or elegant artifacts. In addition to the conceptual dialogue between the works, Gail Wight (Berkeley, CA), and Laura Splan (Brooklyn, NY), have a longstanding relationship which began in 2000, when Splan studied with Wight at Mills College. They have continued that dialogue during conferences on science, art and technology and as colleagues at Stanford University in 2011.

For Raw Material, Laura Splan will be exhibiting two works, Manifest and autologousReflection. In Manifest, Splan collected numerical data from EMG (electromyogram) recordings of electrical activity produced by bodily movements. That data was then used to 3D print sinuous, urn-like sculptural forms. autologousReflection is a computer generated animation that processes the webcam input of viewers' faces, creating curious abstractions as it scrolls through an 1883 text from a prominent eugenicist. In Wight's Recursive Mutations, graphs showing information for the twenty-one chromosomes of the mouse genome were downloaded from the Internet, printed on rice paper, and then given to mice to reconfigure. After an arbitrary period of time, each chromosome was removed, mounted, and framed. The creation of the work is akin to collaboration, in which the artist aligns herself with "the specimens of science, rather than with scientists."

Artist Bios

Laura Splan is an artist and lecturer whose work explores 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. Splan's work has been included in exhibitions at Museum of Art & Design (New York, NY), New York Hall of Science (New York, NY), Museum of Contemporary Craft (Portland, OR) and Beall Center for Art + Technology (Irvine, CA). Reviews and articles including her work have appeared in The New York Times, Village Voice, American Craft, and Discover Magazine. She received a Jerome Foundation Grant for artist research at venues including the Wellcome Museum (London, UK) and La Specola (Florence, IT). She has been a visiting lecturer teaching courses on intersections of Art, Science, and Technology at Stanford University, Mills College, and Illinois State University.

Gail Wight is an Associate Professor in Stanford University's Department of Art & Art History, where she teaches Experimental Media. Her work is represented by Patricia Sweetow Gallery in San Francisco. Her exhibition record includes nearly two dozen solo exhibits throughout North America and Great Britain, and her work has been collected by numerous institutions including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Yale University, and Centro Andaluz de Art Contemporaneo, Spain. Among her many artist residencies are western Australia's Symbiotica, Art & Archaeology at Stonehenge, the Rockefeller Foundation in Bellagio, and San Francisco's Exploratorium. She is particularly intrigued by the unfolding science of biology and the quixotic course of evolution, which is often the subject for her art. Wight is currently at work on a book of photographs, accompanied by a discussion with writer Lawrence Weschler, in which flies become flowers.