Carla Gannis: Lady Ava Interface
Apr 10, 2018–Feb 6, 2019
Referencing Lady Ada Lovelace (1815–1852), known as the first computer programmer, Lady Ava Interface presents herself as an artificial intelligence assistant. At sunrise and sunset, she provides visitors to whitney.org with a menu of quirky, non-utilitarian calls to action and conjures a miniature Whitney from her smart phone. While software agents such as Siri, Alexa, and Cortana assist us with practical information to augment and increase our efficiency, Ava counteracts the generic and purely functional aspects of technology that we often use to begin and end our days. Ava's personage is inspired by the peculiar portraits of Italian Renaissance painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo who assembled images of fruits, vegetables, and fish into strange, yet still recognizable human likenesses. Artist Carla Gannis represents Ava as an assortment of 3D-modeled emojis, clouds, and cookies — symbols of Internet culture — to form a cartoonish female android. Lady Ava Interface continues Gannis’s explorations of historical paintings through the iconography of smartphones and the Internet, investigating the evolution of symbolic languages throughout art history.
About the Artist
Since her arrival in New York in the 1990s, Carla Gannis has been exploring the language of the digital medium in physical and virtual works. Gannis received an MFA in painting from Boston University and is faculty and assistant chair of the Department of Digital Arts at Pratt Institute, New York. She has engaged with the virtual domain by collaging threads of networked communication, online art history, and speculative fiction to produce dark and often humorous explorations of the human condition. Gannis’ work has appeared in numerous exhibitions and screenings, nationally and internationally. Solo exhibitions and screenings include Portraits in Landscape, Midnight Moment, Times Square Arts, NYC; Until the End of the World, DAM Gallery, Berlin; A Subject Self-Defined, TRANSFER Gallery, Brooklyn; and The Garden of Emoji Delights, Hudson River Museum, Yonkers. Gannis’s speculative fiction has appeared in DEVOURING THE GREEN:: fear of a human planet: a cyborg / eco poetry anthology, published by Jaded Ibis Press (2015).
Sunrise/Sunset is a series of Internet art projects that mark sunset and sunrise in New York City every day. All are commissioned by the Whitney specifically for whitney.org, each project unfolding over a timeframe of ten to thirty seconds.
Using whitney.org as their habitat, Sunrise/Sunset projects disrupt, replace, or engage with the museum website as an information environment. This form of engagement captures the core of artistic practice on the Internet, the intervention in existing online spaces. The series is organized by Christiane Paul, adjunct curator of digital art at the Whitney Museum.
To see the current project, be anywhere on this website during sunset or sunrise.