disPLACEMENTS: an exhibition by Athens-based artist RG Brown displays archaeological technology

disPLACEMENTS: Georgia Arc, an exhibition by Athens-based artist RG Brown III comments on the role of archaeological technology in remotely sensing art

Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia Lamar Dodd School of Art Galleries are pleased to present disPLACEMENTS: Georgia Arc. The exhibition will be on view from Nov. 15 – Dec. 14 at UGA’s Broad Street Gallery, 257 W. Broad Street. An opening reception with the artist and collaborators present will be Nov. 15 from 6 – 8 p.m.

disPLACEMENTS is an exhibition documenting the collaboration between Athens-based artist and educator RG Brown III; Ervan Garrison, head of the anthropology department at the University of Georgia; Kent Schneider, an archaeologist with the USDA Forest Service and adjunct professor of anthropology; and anthropology graduate student Jessica Cook. The result of this collaboration between the visual arts and archaeological geophysics is a series of imaged mappings created when the scientists used advanced technologies to remotely sense the original sculpture made and then embedded in the earth by Brown.

The use of geophysical survey techniques was pioneered in the 1940s and 1950s in European archaeology, especially in Great Britain. Contemporary advances in processing and imaging software have made it possible to detect, display, and interpret subtle archaeological patterning within the geophysical data. All these technologies are used to create the works on view in disPLACEMENTS: Georgia Arc. The images on exhibition highlight three different methods archeologists used in re-imaging Brown’s embedded sculpture: electromagnetic conductivity, magnetometers and ground-penetrating radar. Each method yields a different re-imaging of the sculpture, by either utilizing instruments that respond strongly to metal, using sensors to measure the total magnetic field strength or directing a radar signal or an electromagnetic pulse into the ground to read depth.

The title of this exhibition, disPLACEMENTS: Georgia Arc, refers to both the abstract arc-shaped wood and metal sculpture created by Brown, designed after his Fulbright Fellowship experiences building fishing boats in Ghana, as well as to the method in which the sculpture is placed into the ground, displacing red Georgia earth much as a boat displaces water. The process of this collaboration serves to remind that interpretation of such images requires a knowledge of the archaeological record and of the way it is expressed. This exhibit therefore contemplates how audiences sense art objects when placed behind the ‘filter’ of another discipline. When the art is embedded in earth, and technologically re-imaged, or remotely sensed for us, what new discoveries are made, and how must they be translated to us? This translation in images is also illusory. Although images of the work seem to be abstract interpretations of a figurative object, they are directly representational, a true document of one element of the sculpture, whether in terms of conductivity, magnetic field strength or depth submerged. When something is embedded in the earth it cannot be seen, but it can be detected, lying in a parallel reality. Technology in this exhibition is understood as a method of re-perceiving and re-sensing realities.

The process of simply re-imaging the sculpture – which is present in the exhibition – into three visual translations both clarifies it and further abstracts it, making the sculpture and the site at once domestic and wild, catalogued and uncharted. These re-sensed images, by Brown and his collaborators, show every effort to order the archeological field study as an act of deciphering, of close and attentive reading.

Brown is an associate professor of art, in sculpture, at Lamar Dodd School of Art. Earning his master of landscape architecture degree from Harvard University, his master of fine arts – sculpture from the University of Georgia, and a bachelor of arts in Appalachian art from the University of Hawaii, Brown approaches art-making with a truly trained and interdisciplinary eye. Brown has been the recipient of many grants, fellowships and awards and artist residencies. Most recent honors include a Fulbright Scholar Grant, African regional research grant for research in Ghana, West Africa, a solo exhibition at Scuola Internazionale di Grafica in Venice, Italy and a Willson Center Research Fellowship for 2006-2007 from the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts at the University of Georgia.

All Lamar Dodd School of Art Broad Street Gallery events are free and open to the public. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. For further information, please contact Nora Wendl, Gallery Director, Lamar Dodd School of Art at 706/542-0069 or nwendl@uga.edu or visit www.art.uga.edu.