New York artist Matthew Ritchie explores presence of internet and virtual communication in UNT exhibit

Wednesday, September 8, 2021 - 08:54

DENTON (UNT), Texas — Internationally renowned artist Matthew Ritchie is debuting an interdisciplinary exhibit at the University of North Texas College of Visual Arts and Design this fall.

Ritchie is a New York-based artist known for his paintings and installations that draw from the vocabularies of science, sociology, anthropology, mythology and the history of art. His artworks have been exhibited locally and internationally including at the Dallas Museum of Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York and Barbican Centre in London.

“What an incredible way to launch the academic year with a symbolic reopening of CVAD’s galleries — by presenting this new body of work by Matthew Ritchie,” said CVAD Dean Karen Hutzel. “UNT and, therefore, the local community, are the first to see his exhibit, which simultaneously features CVAD’s incredible gallery and the art building where it lives. The depth and expansiveness of this collaborative project, 18 months in the making, has already provided our students many opportunities to learn from and with Ritchie, coalescing in this exhibit. Equally exciting, we also celebrate a collaboration with the College of Music, forged between Ritchie and his musical collaborator Shara Nova.”

The term florilegium has historically been described as a collection of “flowers of thought.” In his exhibit, Matthew Ritchie: Florilegium, on display through Dec. 10 in the CVAD Gallery, Ritchie investigates the history of mapping human knowledge and lived experience using complex systems. The artworks explore the looming presence of the internet and the virtual nature of communication during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ritchie utilizes the technology of GANs, or generative adversarial networks. These machine-learning frameworks treat images as data to help him create unique, uncanny artworks that echo the current paradox of stasis and change in the world. Using his sketches for Shadow Garden, botanical drawings and selected images from the Metropolitan Museum of Art's collection of Drawings and Prints, Ritchie trained multiple GANs to produce the artworks on view.

“The diverse aspects of the project — song, sculpture, software, teaching, performance, painting and film — collectively create a larger space for an idea of the work that hovers in time and space, floating in the twilight area between raw information and human meaning, between signal and noise,” Ritchie said.

In Spring 2020, Ritchie co-taught the Topics in Contemporary Art Practice class with CVAD Galleries Director Stefanie Dlugosz-Acton at UNT. Florilegium will include some artistic outputs of that class including a GAN piece co-created by Ritchie and students in the class. The digital artwork will be projected on the northeast exterior side of the CVAD building at the corner of Mulberry and Welch streets and can be seen after dusk.

“By developing an iterative project that explores both digital and physical spaces we have tried to positively engage with the students at a time when social and academic interactions are being challenged and disrupted by COVID-19, climate change and new technologies such as artificial intelligence,” Ritchie said.

Inside the gallery, the exhibit features a three-channel video; paintings made by Ritchie and an oil-painting robot prototype; a window banner that filters and obscures light within the space; scale models of Shadow Garden the forthcoming public sculpture; and a soundscape created with his longtime musical collaborator and UNT College of Music alumna Shara Nova.

As part of a larger collaborative project, Ritchie also has been developing a joint performance, Infinite Movement, with Nova and Dr. Kristina MacMullen, associate professor in the UNT College of Music. The musical piece debuting in October will explore musical possibilities, in sound, to reflect the process of the GAN.



When: Now through Dec. 10

Gallery Hours: Exhibit is free and open to the public; Noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturdays and noon to 8 p.m. Thursdays

Where: CVAD Gallery in Room 160 of the UNT Art Building, 1201 W. Mulberry St., Denton



When: 7 p.m. Oct. 9

Where: Outside the CVAD Gallery in the UNT Art Building Courtyard, 1201 W. Mulberry St., Denton

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