Chicago artist makes 89 Washington Innovators his prime subjects.
When was the last time you considered a Washington politician a worthy subject for an art project? The idea didn’t cross your mind, you say? It didn’t occur to us either, but then we spotted this amazing video and photographic installation at The Armory Show‘s Focus Area (this year, it’s the US) and had to know more. As Leigh Conner, Partner and Director at CONNERSMITH Gallery in Washington D.C. told the story of of the genesis of The Network we knew we had to feature it on galleryIntell. The artist, Lincoln Schatz embarked on this journey by interviewing a single “innovator” in Washington and then asked for 5 more people as a recommendation for subsequent video interviews, an then 5 more, and then 5 more until the project grew to include a total of 89 of the city’s most notable ‘innovators”. People like Congressional Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, attorney Vernon Jordan, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, AOL founder Steve Case, retired United States Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, internet pioneer Ted Leonsis and the matriarch of the Miami art institution – The Rubell Collection – Mera Rubell are all featured in Schatz’s project.
What makes it interesting, however, is not the participants alone, although their resumes are quite impressive all on their own. It is rather the conversations created as a result of a proprietary software program Schatz wrote that tags words and subjects in each conversation and connects them with one of the remaining 88 interviews. So, for instance, if somewhat talks about immigration reform, the program recognizes the topic and randomly connects it to another person discussing immigrating to the US at the age of two. Likewise, the conversation could center on the issue of internet innovation and the program would then pick up the subject and link it to someone like Steve Case, discussing his thoughts or his views on the issue. It’s a fascinating exercise in mathematical permutations and how a single topic can be explored in different light depending on the preceding or subsequent expressed opinions.
CONNERSMITH gallery is also the founder of the (e)merge Art Fair that “connects emerging-art professionals from around the globe with collectors, curators and cultural decision makers in Washington, DC.” Its third installation will take place this October 3-6 at the Rubell Family’s Capitol Skyline Hotel, in Washington, DC.
Video interview transcript on page 2