The label “new-media art,” like “indie music,” is incredibly slippery, partially because it’s defined by what it isn’t. “Indie” is music not released by corporate labels, and “new media” is art not made using … old media. Often this simply means art made with the aid of a computer or electronics—3D printed work, net art, virtual-reality art, etc. While Weston Jandacka’s upcoming all-local new-media-art group show does certainly include pieces that fit under that umbrella, the Glass Box Gallery curator’s definition of the term sits on the looser end of the spectrum—rooted more in his native Seattle’s history of DIY ethics and the outsiders who found solace in its scrappy tenets. It’s that lens that birthed the name of the show, Floaters. Beyond its summery vibes, Jandacka also liked how the name alluded to the fact that the work doesn’t necessarily fit in elsewhere—that “new media is odds and ends. New media is so bizarre and silly in a way.”
Bizarre indeed—one art piece at Floaters, by Jueqian Fang and Britt Ruggirello (who operate together under the name Mystical Orchid), consists of a giant cat litter box with a store display set up inside of it. Another, by Brandon Aleson, features a giant mound of dirt in the entryway with wires coming up out of it attached to a circle of custom-made speakers. Whatever new media is, it definitely isn’t stuffy.
Jandacka mounted the group show partially in reaction to the Seattle Art Fair—as with Out of Sight at King Street Station, he wanted to take advantage of the attention and energy it brings to the city and direct it toward locals. The other main reason is that Seattle simply has a lot of great new-media artists right now.
One of them, the new-to-town Neon Saltwater, has made a splash by defining her own visual genre that she dubs Roomwave, explained as a “visual genre created to define and explore the mysterious feelings of human experiences and their relationship to environments and interior design.” In addition to inviting people to contribute their own Roomwave images on her Facebook group and Tumblr—often culled from clippings of idealistic spas, upscale hotels, and exotic condo interiors from ’70s-’90s era magazines—she also produces her own 3D graphic renderings of Roomwave interiors that cast an oddly transportive spell on the viewer. They induce a strange nostalgia and wanderlust, as if Myst was set in a resort from 1987.
“This show, “Jandacka says, “is about this sort of weird newish subgenre of art that, in a lot of ways, I think is the future of art.” Float on over to the show, and chances are you’ll leave feeling something similar. Glass Box Gallery, 831 Seattle Blvd. S., glassboxgallery.com. Opening reception 7–10 p.m. Wed., Aug. 3. Ends Sat., Aug. 27.