Guest organized by Rico Gatson and Ellie Murphy
Participating artists: Jane Benson, Judy Blanco, Sanford Biggers, Nicole Cherubini, Rico Gatson, Deborah Grant, Elana Herzog, Ellie Murphy, Aron Namenwirth, Ivan Navarro, Kelly Parr, Ara Peterson, Traci Tullius, Aaron Williams, and James Yamada.
Using system theory as a starting point to enter into emotional realms and states of mind, the artists in Intelligent Design use the abstraction inherent in “system” to approach a diversity of subjects—mathematical, scientific or technological systems; social systems that define gender and race; visual systems of pattern and craft; the cultural systems that create art and music, religion and history.
Artists use system in their work to get at something vast and unsystematic, using sense to get to a place that does not make sense. Rosalind Krauss asserts in her essay “Grids” that the use of system makes it possible for artists to combine the sacred and secular without having to choose between them. But the work we have selected takes this combination to a new place. System here is freed by an increased technological and scientific sense of interconnectedness from the need to be either sacred, profane or both. It assumes the systematic task of existing (a task both physical and spiritual), as it purports to discover the collective hum it believes—it knows -is out there.
The show has a taxonomy of emotion underlying it. The artists don’t decide between intelligent design and the theory of evolution. They fix their belief in one system and all systems simultaneously. By definition, system describes both the individual elements and their interaction and functioning together as a whole. Gatson and Murphy are fascinated by artists taking the scientific, mathematical and technological to personal, emotional or spiritual regions. System in this sense brings together the abstract and the concrete. It is where the personal becomes the universal.