QWERTY – a show about “work” in the information age
William Mead and special guest Lauren Kelly
This collection of work by William Mead, along with guest artist Lauren Kelly, explores some of the many facets of working in a digital, Information Age, where our interactions with our colleagues is often mediated through the use of a keyboard and a screen. Our digital information driven work has seeped into our souls and is part of what defines our relationships as well as who we are as individuals. It stands, at times, in stark contrast to physical labor.
William Mead’s Artist Statement
Conceptually, my work today is driven by technological developments and the modern digital tool set. Our tools allow us to shape our world, but that world also shapes us, and our perceptions. If, as Steve Jobs said, the computer is the bicycle of the mind, then the potential creativity unleashed by all the computational power we have at our fingertips might be the bicycle of the imagination.
Perhaps our imaginations don’t need bicycles, but in spite of that, for over thirty years I have been infatuated with the creative power our digital tools give us. Certainly, the meteoric rise of processing power, and the accessibility of devices that harness this power, has brought with it unprecedented practical and ethical challenges. But these challenges, and the narratives they expose are essentially and explicitly human, and therefore, from my perspective, they add to our expressive potential.
Artistically, I came of age in the 1980’s while attending art school at Parson’s School of Art and Design in New York City. I was inspired by the visual acuity of Cézanne; the draftsmanship and boldness with color of Matisse; the creative fervor of Picasso; the sublime beauty created by Rodin; the internal spaces of Pollock, Chagall and Twombly; the attention to details and materials of minimalists like Serra and Judd; the social and visual impact of Christo; and the visceral and conceptual impact of Joseph Beuys, Eva Hesse, Bruce Nauman and many others. It is a canon of mostly European white men, to be sure, but these artists taught me to be visually sensitive, open to symbolism, and excited by the possibilities of imagination when it crosses boundaries of gender, culture, and history.
My artistic education enables me to deeply enjoy and value a range of visual work, while also showing me how that work connects the past to the present and then into the future. Though my art-making has changed dramatically over the years, an openness to new media and the beauty found in the expressiveness of programming languages, and the craft of coding has created what for me is a direct line from then to now. Though Cézanne or Chagall or Hesse may not see their work in mine, I see it, even as I forge ahead, into a digital landscape of work driven by an information age.
William Mead is a Sacramento based Artist, Designer & Technologist. Mead graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from Parsons School of Design in New York, in 1989. Lauren Kelly is a recent UC Davis MFA graduate Artist, Designer & Technologist. Both Lauren and Bill are excited by the potential of new media and interactive experiences to explore aspects of life in a contemporary, connected and digitally enhanced world.
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Sacramento, CA 95811