NC OUTREACH INTO THE VIRTUAL ART WORLD : MATT ZIGLER
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07/15/2013
By Matt Zigler - Bynum, NC
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As an artist involved in the recent NC Outreach program at Greenhill, I understand the desire to make connections with artists and other creative organizations outside of our state. Although we live in an incredible wealth of creativity and artist resources, we are considered far off the beaten path of the traditional art world. How many reviews of NC gallery shows appear in the write ups at the end of Art in America?

So the opportunity to present images of my work, alongside 14 other NC artists to critics and art professionals from NYC scratched this itch just a bit. And as anything it always turns out better when it is a group event. I undoubtedly learned more from the work of and comments directed towards my fellow artists than I did from my own alone. I love to see great work, no matter the context.

My own efforts in the direction of connecting artists from a wide geographical range have resulted in a website called "Manifesto-ish". This is a long term project with three of my grad school compatriots and is a partly selfish effort to keep myself connected to larger art centers. Manifesto-ish is part gallery, part studio and part meeting space for artists all over the world. We run it on a shoestring budget that is completely crowd funded, and it is still very much an experiment, but we have had some really interesting results. We have hosted online artists in residence, panel discussions via group video chat and crowd sourcing of artistic material. The cornerstone of the site, however, is the virtual gallery.

The virtual gallery is a 3d rendered space that visitors can walk around in, video game style. Each visitor is represented in the gallery with an avatar, and you can chat with others in the gallery itself via IM style chats. I have to tell you the first time I met a stranger in a gallery I had set up with my paintings and chatted with them, it was quite strange; and strangely enjoyable. Here I was meeting an art lover from somewhere else in the world (they were actually in the waiting room for the dentist, if you can believe that!), and asking them which of my paintings they liked the best. I knew we could put that to good use.

So at Manifesto-ish we decided to try and create an art gallery experience reminiscent of the real thing, regardless of geographical and logistical boundaries. We had about 100 visitors to our first gallery opening, chatting with them about art, poetry, 80's movies and whatever else seemed relevant. We hosted an online artist talk that was streamed live so viewers could post questions. We had a virtual catalog and a guest book to sign.

And here is where we come full circle, because our upcoming juried show, Binary : The Interaction of Opposites, includes four artists from the NC Outreach Project (myself, Christopher Thomas, Kiki Farish and Heather Lewis) in addition to twelve other artists. All told there are six states and seven countries represented in the show. Artists from North Carolina, Philadelphia, New York, London, Moscow and the Netherlands plan to attend the four hour opening on the evening of Thursday, July 18th from 7-11 EST (which is very early the next morning for some) to meet viewers from all over and discuss their pieces.

If you are interested to do a little outreach into the virtual art world, please join us for the opening at www.manifesto-ish.com/gallery. We will provide the art and entertainment, you just have to bring your own wine and cheese! If you would like to join our facebook event page to discuss the experience, click here. We'll hope to see you there, but if you can't make it, feel free to visit the gallery at any time in the following month, and join our mailing list to get updates on future events and opportunities.

 

Sulaiman Majali, Hooks (Portland UK), Print, 98.3 x 300cm

 

Kiki Farish, Want Content, graphite, acrylic on clayboard, 7.5 x 12", 2012

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