Contact [email protected] for pdf catalogue of artworks available by Mike Whiting in association with PIXELATED.
Denver Botanic Gardens announces its 2018 outdoor exhibition of large-scale sculptures by contemporary American artist Mike Whiting. Pixelated: Sculpture by Mike Whiting, on view April 28 – September 23, 2018 at the Gardens’ York Street location, features brightly-colored metal sculptures created within the pixelated aesthetic of Pac-Man and other 8-bit vintage video games. Several new works will be created to complement and contrast the Gardens’ landscapes. Exhibition-related programs will be announced at a later date. The exhibition is included with general admission.
Mike Whiting says “Gardens are in their own way virtual spaces—carefully created environments. They have the power to transport you, to give you the feeling of faraway places. Similar are the digital environments of video games. The contrast of the sculptures’ geometric and manmade materials can seem at odds with the gardens, but they are connected in the dialogue about the re-presentation of nature.”
Whiting’s work explores the relationships between the natural world and the artificial world of digital media along with two distinct visual styles: 8-bit graphics — which have enjoyed a recent resurgence in games like Minecraft — and minimalist sculpture. Graphics in early video games such as Donkey Kong and Space Invaders were reduced to simplified pixel forms because of technological limitations, while the minimalist art movement created objects that were purposefully simplified. Pixelated investigates the opposite intents of these two artistic approaches that result in a strikingly similar visual outcome.
Three of Whiting’s sculptures are typically on display in Denver’s River North Art District (RiNo): Pinkie (2010), Mr. Green (2010) and Rhino (2010). Pinkie and Mr. Green are part of the Pixelated exhibition. The California-based artist received his BFA from Brigham University in Utah and his MFA from Pratt Institute in New York. He has been the subject of solo gallery and museum exhibitions and part of group exhibitions throughout the U.S. Lisa Eldred, Director of Exhibitions, Art and Interpretation at the Gardens states, “Mike Whiting’s work offers a wonderful juxtaposition to Denver Botanic Gardens’ natural surroundings. The layered understandings of his sculpture provide an art experience that not only resonates with art and video game enthusiasts, but also with children exploring the world around them through color and form.”
Lenders to the exhibition include Mike Whiting, Brigham Young University Museum of Art and the City of Denver. This project is supported in part by the citizens who support the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD) and is developed in coordination with Plus Gallery, Denver.
Mike Whiting received his MFA from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY in May of 2002, and has since developed a substantial profile as a contemporary artist of our times through his solo exhibitions at Plus Gallery, numerous group exhibitions across the US, and a number of monumental outdoor works commissioned for entities across the US, including Denver’s iconic “Rhino” sculpture at the intersection of Larimer and Broadway. In 2008 Whiting was awarded a 10k cash prize in the 2008 annual Colorado Springs exhibition “Art on the Streets,” selected by juror Adam Lerner, director of the MCA Denver. Whiting’s “Suburbia” was featured at GOCA in Colorado Springs in 2012, and two of his largest sculptures “Little Green Man and Lucky Rabbit Head” were on display in downtown Denver throughout 2014 in conjunction with Arts Brookfield at Republic Plaza. His first major solo museum exhibition “8-Bit Modern” took place in 2012 at the BYU Museum of Art and remained on view through the summer of 2014. Whiting’s work has been placed in numerous prominent collections throughout Colorado and the US.
In my visual experience Pac-Man came before Donald Judd, Carl Andre or even Mondrian. For me Broadway Boogie Woogie will always be an homage to Pac-Man. My current work explores the visual connection between minimalism and early video games. Video gaming and minimalism arrived at the same visual conclusion through different means and by opposite intentions. Early video gaming, or pixel-based imaging, did not intend to be simple or minimal. It intended to communicate as much visual information as possible. The problem was that the memory available to store that visual information was extremely limited. The images created in early video gaming were so simplified that out of context they are unreadable as representational images. Early video gaming images are, at best, abstractions. They are minimal for lack of technology. Minimalism on the other hand, created objects that were minimal by design and intention Minimalism intend to reduce the art object to its simplest form. Minimalist objects and images are based on formal ideas with no reference to image or outside narrative and have the appearance of a mass produced object. These two separate movements had quite opposite intentions with very similar visual results. My current work explores this connection between early pixel-based video game images. I limit my image making to the same constraints that governed early pixel based technologies. I use a minimal number of squares to create an image. The images are formed into shaped steel canvases and are constructed using materials and techniques traditionally used to build minimalist sculpture. Unlike the minimalist art object my objects are image based and lack a perfect finish. The paint appearance acknowledges ideas and movements that preceded these objects, but also distinguishes them from those same ideas and movements, resulting in a pixel-based abstraction. -Michael Whiting, 2012