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FAX opens Saturday, September 12 at the Contemporary Museum

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Matt Sheridan Smith, “Untitled (contrast test) (detail),” 2008. Black and white inkjet print, 8.5 x 11 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Lisa Cooley Fine Art.

FAX at The Contemporary Museum
Exhibition Dates: September 12 – December 20, 2009
Opening Reception: Saturday, September 12

FAX invites a multigenerational group of artists, as well as architects, designers, scientists and filmmakers, to conceive of the fax machine as a tool for thinking and drawing. Although the technology for transmitting printed images and texts over distance dates from the nineteenth century—a machine by Scottish mechanic Alexander Bain patented in 1843—it was the introduction of the modern fax through commercially available machines in the 1970s that turned facsimiles into a ubiquitous communications medium for international business. Artists readily exploited its immediate, graphic, and interactive character, making it an important part of the history of telecommunications art, nestled between the legacy of mail art and the nascent practices of new media.

FAX will include drawings by over 100 artists that have each been submitted via fax machine. Over the course of the exhibition, as new works arrive via the museum’s working fax machine, the exhibition will evolve as new works are added to the walls of the museum. All the transmitted pages will be archived or displayed together with the active fax machine, which may produce new faxes from invited artists at any moment. The result—an ongoing cumulative project—is a show concerned with ideas of reproduction, obsolescence, distribution, and mediation. Here, reproducible yet erratic production via the fax machine displaces traditional notions of the hand, still commonly associated with the medium of drawing, and foreground the role of drawing as a generative process.

Peter Coffin, “Untitled,” 2009. Facsimile on paper, 8.5 x 11 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

FAX is a traveling exhibition co-organized by The Drawing Center, New York, and iCI (Independent Curators International), New York, and circulated by iCI. The guest curator is Joao Ribas. The exhibition and the accompanying catalogue were made possible, in part, by members of the Drawing Room, a patron circle founded to support innovative exhibitions in The Drawing Center’s project gallery; and by support to iCI from The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, and iCI Benefactor members Agnes Gund, Gerrit and Sydie Lansing, and Barbara and John Robinson.

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