The Beall Center for Art + Technology presents a mid-career survey by artist Ian Ingram
Irvine, Calif., Sept. 28, 2021 — The Beall Center for Art + Technology presents a mid-career survey by artist Ian Ingram. Ingram’s art explores animal morphology, robotic avatars, interspecies communication, and technology in natural environments.
This exhibition will present work from 1998 to 2021, with a particular focus on new works created during his residency at the Beall Center’s Black Box Projects.
Ingram's residency work grew out of collaboration and conversation with UCI neuroscience professor Steve Mahler and in thinking about Mahler's love for rats. In the process, Ingram's focus narrowed around the synanthropic animals, the animals most closely tied to ourselves and our places.
Themes running through this new work include the panoply of stories we tell about rats. The actual lives of synanthropic animals and the spaces they occupy in our built environment, the bonds Disney princesses have with animals, the ever-present mechanical eye in the urban environment, and an inchoate yearning for ancestral landscapes. A yearning assumed to be shared both by humans and by the other animals who find facsimiles of those landscapes in our constructed places.
But the linking thread between these projects has seemed to be the "flashbulb memory," the type of episodic memory where even seemingly banal details about a moment are frozen into our heads by the onset of an intense experience, whether traumatic or joyful. There is some mechanism in the brain through which our quotidian experiences are flowing that is always at the ready to lock down the particulars of what preceded each and every instant at the trigger of a sufficiently emotionally-charged stimulus.
Ingram's robots have frequently been designed to function similarly when the subject of their focus (whether it be raven, lizard, or worm) appeared on the scene. This was often driven by pragmatism: there is always limited space in a robot's memories to store the images, sounds, and other vestiges of their experiences from the time they spend out in wild places. But with this new work, Ingram attempts to bring that element of the Umwelt of his robots right to the forefront.
The result, in essence, is a collection of objects that get desperately excited when they sense a rat.
This exhibition is possible due to the generosity of the Beall Family Foundation.
About the Artist: Ian Ingram is a Los Angeles-based artist who is interested in the human-made body's future as a willful entity and the nature of communication. He builds robotic objects that borrow facets from animal form and behavior, from the shapes and movements of machines, from our stories about animals, and from our struggle to come to terms with our place in and effect on the natural environment.
The resulting works–often intended to cohabitate, commune, and communicate with the animals in their own places–explore our relationship with non-human animals, behavior and object performance as artistic media, and the interface between the built and the grown.
Ingram has exhibited internationally, including at the Andy Warhol Museum (Pittsburgh, USA); Nikolaj Kunsthal (Copenhagen, Denmark); Ars Electronica (Linz, Austria); the Museum of Modern Art (Toluca, Mexico); Yada Gallery (Nagoya, Japan); Bedford Gallery (Walnut Creek, USA); Eyelevel Gallery (Halifax, Canada); Purdue University (West Lafayette, USA); Zone2Source (Amsterdam, Netherlands); Hasbro (Pawtucket, USA); Popular Science Magazine; Het Nieuwe Instituut (Rotterdam, Netherlands); the Beall Center for Art + Technology (Irvine, USA); and the Victoria and Albert Museum (London, UK). Ingram has a BS in Ocean Engineering and MS in Ocean Acoustics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and an MFA in Visual Art from Carnegie Mellon University.
More images, videos, and texts related to Ingram's work can be found at www.ianingram.org
About the Beall Center for Art + Technology: The Beall Center is an exhibition and research center located at the University of California, Irvine, in the UCI Claire Trevor School of the Arts. Since its opening in 2000, the Beall Center has promoted new forms of creation and expression by building innovative scholarly relationships and community collaborations between artists, scientists and technologists, and encouraging research and development of art forms that can affect the future. For artists, the Beall Center serves as a proving ground — a place between the artist’s studio and the art museum — and allows them to work with new technologies in their early stages of development. For visitors, the Beall Center serves as a window to the most imaginative and creative visual arts innovations. The curatorial focus presents a diverse range of innovative, world-renowned artists, both national and international, who work with experimental and interactive media. The Beall Center received its initial support from the Rockwell Corporation in honor of retired chairman Don Beall and his wife, Joan; the core idea being to merge their lifelong passions – business, engineering and the arts – in one place. Today, major support is generously provided by the Beall Family Foundation. For more information, please visit https://beallcenter.uci.edu/.
About UCI Claire Trevor School of the Arts: As UCI’s creative laboratory, the Claire Trevor School of the Arts explores and presents the arts as the essence of human experience and expression, through art forms ranging from the most traditional to the radically new. The international faculty works across a wide variety of disciplines, partnering with others across the campus. National-ranked programs in art, dance, drama, and music begin with training but end in original invention. Students come to UCI to learn to be citizen-artists, to sharpen their skills and talents, and to become the molders and leaders of world culture. For more information, visit www.arts.uci.edu.