Alan Rath: Virtual Unreality
Saturday, February 22: 3-5pm
Installation view of Alan Rath: Virtual Unreality at the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, 2019. Photo credit: David Pace
This event is free.
Join us at the ICA for a visit with artist Alan Rath and the launch of his book Alan Rath: Virtual Unreality.
In the early spring of 2019, the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art was honored to exhibit a retrospective of work by artist Alan Rath. Alan Rath: Virtual Unreality marked the first large-scale retrospective survey of this internationally recognized Bay Area artist in more than 20 years. Including work made between 1985 and 2018, Virtual Unreality spanned Rath’s prolific career, from his early sculptures that incorporate cathode ray tubes and found objects to his most recent digital and electronic robotics. The catalogue features the works from this exhibition as well as many other pieces by the artist. An augmented reality application has been developed in conjunction with the publication of this catalogue. The app will be available for download for both Apple and Android smartphone and tablet platforms, the app enables the reader to view a live action video of the large color plate images featured in the catalogue. The catalogue was made in collaboration with Hosfelt Gallery, San Francisco, CA. Signed catalogues will be available for sale during the event.
Rath graduated from MIT in 1982 with a degree in electrical engineering and came to California soon after, having heard about the abundance of electronic parts in the Bay Area, that were not as readily available on the east coast. Since then, he has produced an ever-evolving body of work that ranges from elaborately designed electronic marvels to fluid, kinetic sculptures. All of his works utilize custom electronics designed and fabricated by the artist. He also writes the software that animates his sculptures, preferring programs that avoid repetition and instead lead to steadily unfolding performances. Many of his sculptures modify their behavior over long spans of time, some taking years or even decades to exhibit new imagery.
Though often viewed solely through the lens of “digital art” or “new media,” Rath’s work is first and foremost sculpture, constructed with a deeply refined sense of formal elegance and a broad understanding of art historical context. The formal sophistication extends into the smallest of details, with a remarkable attention to functionality. In his mind, there is no separation between the human and the technological – it is merely our perception that technology is external and different. “Machinery is not unnatural,” he says. “It’s a reflection of the people who make it.” In a poetic integration of art,nature and technology, Rath’s sculptures communicate with us beyond the confines of language.
Alan Rath’s work is included in major collections throughout the United States including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the de Young Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, San Jose Museum of Art, Orange County Museum of Art, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Hara Museum in Tokyo, in addition to numerous private collections. His work was included in the Biennial Exhibition at the Whitney Museum in 1991. He is represented by Hosfelt Gallery, San Francisco.
Major support for Alan Rath: Virtual Unreality was provided by the Shifting Foundation, the Lipman Family Foundation, and Doris & Alan Burgess. Generous support was provided by Brigitte Sandquist & Phil Black, Sarah Ratchye & Ed Frank, Tom Patchett, Michael Solway, and Anonymous, in honor of Todd Hosfelt. Additional support was provided by Elaine Cardinale, Yvonne & Mike Nevens, and Deborah & Andy Rappaport.