Friday Flash No.5 is the highly anticipated conclusion of Denver Digerati's unique summer 2013 series, featuring the unveiling of new, never before seen works by seven artists commissioned by the Denver Theatre District and Denver Digerati for the LED screen at 14th and Champa. The artworks created through the commissions will become part of the DTD's permanent collection, the first of its kind in the United States and a vital change to the nature of public art. LED screen architecture and technology is advancing at a rapid pace, with screens found in a variety of public settings, almost exclusively for commercial purposes. Through the process of commissioning artists for works specific to screens in the Denver Theatre District, Denver Digerati emphasizes the potential of these screens as vehicles for presenting dynamic art content, showcasing leading advances in motion-based art and animation by regional and international artists for the public.
Denver Digerati curators Ivar Zeile and Ryan Pattie have worked for three years towards developing a long-term, sustainable presentation model that reflects the innovative transformations occurring in art, ones propelled by rapid advances in technology and the public’s ever increasing shift towards a broader visual literacy. The concept of building a new library of digital media through commissioning artists was a natural extension of previous successful showcases such as 2011’s “Frame of Mind” and 2012’s feature-length “SightLine,” programs that tapped deeply into uncharted territory in the public sphere. As a result, the slogan "The Future of Public Art is NOW" was adopted at the start of this year’s summer Friday Flash series, based on the high-level content and impact the concept had yielded to date. Each of the summer’s previous four Friday Flash programs has expanded the network of artists both locally and internationally, all who have eagerly participated and embraced the model as an innovative approach towards public engagement with art. The website denverdigerati.com now serves as a permanent, robust archive for anyone to review past programs and find out about upcoming events.
Friday Flash No. 5 serves as the conclusion of this year’s ambitious agenda. Seven artists were selected in the first quarter of the year to initiate the new commission program. Chris Coleman (Denver, CO), Bryan Leister (Denver, CO), Quintin Gonzalez (Denver, CO), Justin Beard (Denver, CO), Alex McLeod (Toronto, Canada), Jonathan Monaghan (Washington, DC) and Milton Croissant III (Baltimore, MD) are all making dynamic strides in the field of motion-based art. These artists also supported the DTD’s initial efforts within the LED context, either through allowing their works to be screened in both signature long-form programs or in a test capacity to understand the unique dynamics of the screens and their public context. Four of the seven artists are based in Denver, with a fifth having recently left the community after a long-term engagement with the local art scene, making the curatorial effort one worth celebrating as a commitment to the local talent pool.
The artists have each been given a monetary stipend and 5 months to create new works with full creative authority for the content, with the understanding that they be suitable for the public realm. The works could range in length from two to ten minutes and would need to be effective without a soundtrack, though the initial presentation for Friday Flash did feature sound. The artists were largely selected on the premise of their understanding and use of digital technology, a realm that is quickly breeding new and exciting constructs that merge inherent artistic abilities with innovative tools that are not yet common in either the studio or traditional exhibition venues. Advanced approaches to animation through digital means are still considered in their infancy, though their merits and effects are quickly becoming entrenched by mainstream filmmakers and gaming industries that reap enormous profits. The new visual languages that are fashioned by artists who have embraced these technologies is resulting in an exciting art platform that is open to widely diverse imaginations, resulting in some of the most visually stimulating, thoughtfully conceived work being created in the world today. This work primarily resides on the internet and a field of small-screens used by the public everyday throughout the world, yet it’s potential is only fully realized in a more dynamic context that are only now being brought forth through large-scale LED screens in the public realm. Denver is the ideal city in which to have this type of work surface in a meaningful, sustainable way.