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An art gallery and an interactive media studio have joined together to create a celebration of digital culture and art in DUMBO.

In the process of assembling the artwork that comprises "Digital DUMBO: A Three Day Festival Showcasing the Digital Arts," co-organizer Elissa Jane Mastel of Mastel + Mastel gallery on Washington Street said the neighborhood responded with overwhelming enthusiasm.

"Four Eyes Productions and myself started off with a little idea in the spring: to do a digital arts festival, a moving image festival and have a launch party for FourEyes.TV, a new Web site," explained Mastel.

"People started responding quickly, and it mushroomed. Silicon Gallery joined, and one after the other, more came on board, building momentum, and now it’s much bigger than we anticipated."

Now the festival has grown to eight DUMBO venues beyond Suite 700 at 70 Washington St., where Mastel + Mastel is located.

Other sites either hosting events or displaying artwork are Gale Gates et. al. (37 Main St.), Brooklyn Front and Superfine (126 Front St.), Smack Mellon gallery (62 Water St.), Silicon Gallery (10 Jay St.), DUMBO General Store (111 Front St.), SKIZUM Studios (135 Plymouth St., 2nd floor) and Howard Schickler Gallery (45 Main St.). The festival is intended to bolster the idea that DUMBO is a nucleus of artistic and digital culture.

"Digital DUMBO" kicks off on Sept. 6 with the launch party for FourEyes.TV.

"FourEyes.TV gives my company the opportunity to work with experimental Flash animation," said Sara Schwittek, CEO of Four Eyes Productions. "It’s an offshoot from FourEyes.com. FourEyes.TV is an experimental site. We do a lot of entertainment-based Web sites, and on this site, our artist-employees can learn and experiment with new tools before they work with clients."

The FourEyes.TV party, 6­10 pm at Mastel + Mastel, is free and open to the public, as are all of the seminars, shows and screenings of "Digital DUMBO."

Throughout the festival, Mastel promises, viewers will see art inspired by technology and art derived from the latest technology. There will be digital art shows, moving image screenings, sculptures, demonstrations, presentations and discussions at the various venues. Interested people are invited to go down to the Mastel gallery and download the schedule and maps onto their Palm Pilots. (There are also paper versions of the schedules for the technology-challenged.)

"We’ve been in DUMBO for two years now, and it means a lot to us to be a part of such a unique community filled with creative energy. Hosting this event gives us the opportunity to work with many of the established and emerging talents here," said Schwittek, whose company designed the "Digital DUMBO" and Brooklyn Arts Council Web sites.

The scope of the artwork on display in the various galleries is staggering.

The sheer volume of submissions prompted Mastel + Mastel to take over other spaces in 70 Washington St. for its "Digital DUMBO" show, said Mastel. "We’re calling them Mastel gallery annexes," she said.

"Pieces have been sent to us from all over the country. There are installations that rely on people’s movements to react to it. One piece, Nino Rodriguez’s ’Cleaving,’ needs its own 12 feet of space, so we had to come up with ways to accommodate that." Mastel explained that the viewer enters the room, violates the space and "reality and projection collapse."

"Another piece is more interactive: these two transparent suits called ’Front,’ have little fans inside. When one person yells at another they blow up, they turn into monsters." Mastel explained that this piece, created by Millefiore Effect, has microphones embedded in the suits, which are networked together.

"Inflation and deflation are triggered by the volume of the suit-inhabitants’ voices. A computer monitors the sound levels from the microphones. When the sound exceeds a certain volume, serial communication is sent to a micro controller, which activates the fans," she said.

The caliber of artwork submitted to the show ranges from "stuff from kids in school to Lewis Baldwin, whose ’MilkMilkLemonade.net’ showed at Whitney’s ’BitStreams.’ We tried to keep the parameters as wide open as possible," said Mastel.

"My husband, Randall Mastel, is usually the [gallery] curator," she said. This time, she is in the curator seat, and chose her husband’s work to be included in her "Digital DUMBO" show, which Mastel says she’s been dreaming of for 10 years. "[Randall] did a series of paintings using motherboards as inspiration with his [recurring] twins images on top. This work is a play on biotechnology and genetics."

In addition to exposing viewers to a wide range of digitally produced or technology-inspired art, "Digital DUMBO" promises to expose visitors to the wide range of companies operating in DUMBO, like SKIZUM and its innovative artists collective, and Gale Gates, a gallery that hosts art shows as well as theatrical works.

"We’re really into being into Brooklyn and in DUMBO, and this is a labor of love," said Mastel. "The way the neighborhood has grasped this and jumped on board - it means so much to us. It just proves to me that this community really is a community."

 

"Digital DUMBO: A Three Day Festival Showcasing Digital Arts" takes place Sept. 6-9 at various DUMBO venues. Bring your Palm OS handheld device and get the wireless program for "Digital DUMBO" at the Mastel + Mastel Gallery (70 Washington St., Suite 700). Paper maps and programs are also available. Open daily from noon to 6 pm. For more information about the exhibits and seminars at the other galleries, call (646) 452-1300 or visit www.digitalbrooklyn.com.

For more information about Four Eyes Productions (45 Main St., Studio 404), call (718) 254-9557. All "Digital DUMBO" events are free.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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