Soul Driver

Einstein famously reflected that "the mysterious" was what stood "at the cradle of true art and true science." But considering the ensuing decades, marked by the increasing technological specialization of the sciences and perennially high-brow parameters of art world discourse, it is easy to now believe that the fields have all but separated. "Souls and Machines," the current exhibition at Madrid's Museo Reina Sofia, however, maintains that "art and science move along parallel paths" and offers up a handful of creative practices that exemplify the twenty-first century marriage of new media and empathetic production. While most of the participating artists work across media, a significant number are exhibiting works that connect older forms of image-making, like painting, with the latest in programming and design. Artist, graphic designer and university professor John Maeda presents seven "paintings in motion": digital animations generated by custom software, which find colorful, abstract patterns aggregating into naturalistic structures. These animations, titled Nature, are projected onto hanging, translucent screens, a strategy that moves them into the sculptural realm and seems in keeping with Maeda's declared interest in "post-digital" aesthetic renewal. Digital painting becomes an exercise in decentralized production in Evru's TECURA, an interactive application and image/sound archive open to a user's every creative whim. A printer and WAN network hookup feature in TECURA's exhibition installation, thereby underscoring Evru's role as facilitator (not author) of a broader community's experimentation with contemporary methods of image-making. - Tyler Coburn

Image: John Maeda, Nature, 2008