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Interpretations Devorah Sperber

  • Archive, Archive Exhibitions, Archived Education, Exhibition

  • March 27 - September 1, 2008
  • Kidspace

This “marvelously zany installation artist” (The New York Times) makes sculptures that at first glance appear to be multi-colored abstractions composed of volumes of common craft materials such as spools of thread, map tacks, and marker caps. When viewed through special optical devices like a clear acrylic sphere or a convex mirror, however, recognizable images from art history surprisingly emerge.

For most, the act of seeing is an unremarkable event — few people give much thought to the mechanics behind this commonplace activity. But for New York-based artist Devorah Sperber, how the brain interprets visual information forms the centerpiece of a fascinating artistic practice. Interpretations: Devorah Sperber featured sculptures by Sperber which explored how the brain interprets visual information, suggesting surprising bridges between classic painting techniques and modern digital technology.

Sperber crafts her works so that the viewing process mimics the way the eyes and brain interpret visual stimuli. Many of her abstracted images are constructed upside-down and backwards, the way in which the eyes absorb information. The optical device functions as a brain, condensing, inverting, and reversing raw color and value into something identifiable. Upside-down and backward composition alludes not only to the biological mechanics of sight, but also to the mechanics of the camera obscura, a projector-like device that some art historians believe many Old Masters may have used. The construction method most apparent in Sperber’s work — using individual bits of color to assemble a larger image — is her nod to modern technology. A computer program breaks her chosen image into pixels, the building block of digital imaging technology. She translates the pixels into sculpture — her spools of thread, chenille stems or gemstones function as three-dimensional pixels. Her mirrors and lenses operate not only as human eyes and brains but as computers, “zooming out” and pulling the colors together, reforming the picture.

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Kidspace is a contemporary art gallery and art-making space organized in collaboration with the Williams College Museum of Art, Sterling & Francine Clark Art Institute, and MASS MoCA.

Devorah Sperber, After Vermeer, 2006