'Unintended Consequences'

When Southern Oregon University got a new phone, it flew through the air tethered to a crane.

The giant Sculptura donut phone, weighing 11,000 pounds with base, is a marble sculpture by Daniel A. Henderson that's part of a new exhibit, "Unintended Consequences and the Digital Age," opening Thursday at the Schneider Museum of Art.

Featuring the work of three artists, the show explores aspects of the evolution of technology and will run through Dec. 10.

"They all deal with aspects of the digital age," said Museum Director Michael Crane.

In the main gallery, Henderson will show "The Art of Invention," eight sculptures in stone, metal, glass and plastic that are large-scale replicas of old technology.

"I wanted people to talk about technology, not just use it to talk," said Henderson, who is a fourth-generation native of Oregon. He graduated from SOU in 1984 with a degree in business and went on to become an inventor, holding 26 U.S. patents and developing the technology that allows cellular phones to receive and send picture and video messaging.

The pieces stand out because of their size and intricate detail. Knobs on the radio and telephone cords coming out of the large phones look realistic.

"People seem to gather around them and then the stories come — life events associated with the material language in our culture," he said.

The heart of Henderson's exhibit is to ask questions about how we use this technology.

"It's supposed to be not just nostalgic. It's a platform, I hope, to contemplate where we are, where we came from, where we might be headed," Henderson said.

"The Lost Museum: The Fate of the World's Greatest Lost Treasures" is an ongoing project by Shaurya Kumar, who came to the U.S. from India in 2004 to work on his master's degree. Kumar is assistant professor of printmaking at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.

"Lost Museum" consists of eight prints of artworks that have been digitally corrupted. The image that is left is unclear and distorted.

Kumar presents the scenario that a large digital archive of destroyed original works has itself been destroyed.

"The loss of the archive brings us to a loss of history," Kumar said.

Each piece is from a different era where war was the reason for the piece being destroyed. The exhibit explores "how we experience things in a virtual world," especially when that is all that is left.

The final exhibit is "Undercasts: Navigating Blindness" by Brett Phares, assistant professor of media arts, interactive media and game studies at Marist College in New York.

The exhibit is "trying to understand how we see or don't see."

Ambient media art is an area of expression that explores how our brains filter the massive amount of information that we are subjected to every day and what we actually pay attention to.

Part of Phares' exhibit is a combination of a projector flashing first-person statements and a monitor that randomly pairs images from news sources with editorial headlines. The exhibit reacts to the surrounding ambient noise making the piece move more with sound.

"It's a media shake-up," Phares said. "It's an attempt to get people to look at context and look again."

Phares uses technology itself to look at how it and our perception of the information we get from that technology influence our individual view. He has found that the brain is unable to see the full scope of information.

"As fast-paced as it is, we're built-in with a kind of fuse box that prevents us from seeing it all," Phares said.

The hope is that people will "break through" all the information.

"I wonder how we find our way through gobs of information, maybe this information finds us," said Phares.

During the opening on Thursday, Robert C. Morgan will lecture on Henderson's work in the Meese Room in the Art Building near the museum. Morgan also will launch a book about Henderson's sculptures at the event.

Kumar and Phares will visit SOU in October to speak about their exhibits.

The Schneider Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Admission is a suggested donation of $5. For more information call 541-552-6245 or visit www.sou.edu/sma.

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