THREAD at Wood Street Galleries


Opening Reception + Gallery Crawl
Friday, January 26, 5-10pm
with music by Shade

Gallery talk with Michele Thursz
Saturday, January 27, 1pm

The term thread has many connotations, relating to craft and technology in the contemporary artist’s studio and in culture at large.

The curatorial model of Thread physically emulates the structure of a web log. Here at Wood Street Galleries, the exhibition is parsed into four categories, simulating threads in a conversation about the resurrection of craft aesthetics within technology-based contemporary art making.

Craft and technology have always been linked. Craft has many meanings, all related to the making of art or objects: a mastery of skill; the hand-made quality of a designed object; an object that has a purpose; a hobby form. Craft itself has always been based in material technologies, but technologies also exist in the form of languages, as tools to transfer information. Today we have advanced these earlier technologies - languages - as media to facilitate our need for exchange.

Earlier crafts included a multitude of materials used for domestic, social, and ritual purposes. Today the materials include computers, programming languages, software, cell phones, and mass media. These materials result in crafted forms that are not unlike iterative, hand-me-down, repaired and collectively infused objects that are loaded with plural narratives generated from a rich legacy of many makers and many voices. The objects are both things, and containers for socially rich ornamentation and personal expression, like desktops, ring tones, hacks, and customizations. Applied crafts have ancient roots; these are passed down through generations, both through vocation, and as markers in history. Contemporary, technologically-based crafts might not be made of literal materials like wood, ceramic, cloth or metal but rather of code (with coder as craftsman), signal, or interactive objects.

Craft is generative; it reproduces in both form and mastery of medium. Today’s technological objects embody a collection of crafted actions, and are malleable in how they might be realized as designed objects- as tools and instigators of intellectual contemplation. The frame for these constructed works has shifted towards a more sociological context, one that explores the evolving terrain of technology’s effects on the individual and group, or public.

Computer and internet techologies act as extensions of our physical bodies and minds, to a virtual space in which we play and live. These constructs allow the user to devise new ways to collect, navigate, communicate, and even develop multiple identities and landscapes. Now that almost two decades have passed since personal computers and the internet have existed, the public is fluent with these new languages and objects as part of everyday use. This fluency in turn empowers makers to continue the evolution of technology at large. Here the makers’ skills enable them to recraft these platforms, and question the utopian ideas that are currently grafted onto the currency of technology.

Contemporary objects have dual functions of utility and ornament, and like hand-crafted relics of the past, they push at the processes of production and definitions of art. These applications of traditional craft aesthetics within contemporary art practice provide the most democratic of the arts to date.

The exhibition, Thread and the works all refer to craft in the functional sense of the word: as expertise in a medium, and as the construction of an object that is multidimensional - either as a sociological tool or as a personal perspective. The application of traditional craft, aesthetics, which are sometimes sentimental, and often tactile, positions the makers’ viewpoints both against and among the flood of technology today.

Within four physical threads inside of the gallery, twelve artists’ use information that is derived from information technologies, software, gaming, mass media, and video.

Participating artists: Michael Anderson, Andy Deck, Ursula Endlicher, Tal Hadad, Yael Kanarek, Knitta, Guthrie Lonergan, Cat Mazza, Anne-Marie Schleiner, Devorah Sperber, Carlo Zanni, Marina Zurkow

Wood Street Galleries is located in Pittsburgh's Cultural District.
601 Wood Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15222