John Pomara, professor of visual arts in the School of Arts and Humanities, produces art that is unique to the digital age. His most recent work is on display at the Barry Whistler Galleryin Dallas until Nov. 24.
The exhibit, titled off-Key2, showcases Pomara’s artistic approach fusing art, science and technology – a style that has developed over time.
In 1998, Pomara was a newly-hired professor who didn’t want anyone to see what he was working on. After dark, when no one was around, he returned to the Visual Arts Building to use the copy machine.
For months, Pomara photocopied paint drips patterned to resemble microbiology photographs of cell structures.
“I collected dozens of biology books, anything that had any kind of microphotography or DNA gene scan,” Pomara recalled. “I wanted to make these images into 6-foot hand-painted images – I wanted to make 6-foot photocopies.”
Pomara’s late-night project led to an exhibition of large-scale paintings and photographs that appeared as photocopies at the Dallas Museum of Art, and to a deeper investigation of how art, technology and science interact.
Today, Pomara is lauded for his ability to blend technology and traditional art. Some call him a “new media artist.”
The University’s Arts and Technology program is a good fit for him, he said, because his interactions with students who use video, digital photography and painting make him approach art differently. And his collaborations with faculty sometimes force him to re-examine his work.
“My work explores the tension between mechanical detachment and personal engagement,” Pomara said. “I’m investigating the link between abstract paintings and photography, printing and digital imaging.”
Pomara’s artwork currently involves making computer stencils of magnified digital images, which he then paints by hand, pulling industrial enamel across aluminum surfaces. The finished paintings look like an electronic screen, with a cool reflective surface, blurred as if the forms are moving rapidly or hovering like a photographic ghost.
“The work is a visual dialogue about the intimacy of touch and how it’s evolving in an ever-increasingly faster world of electronic imaging,” Pomara said. “Maybe I’m just a new media artist who keeps on painting.
In some of his most recent work, Pomara manipulates technology to produce art. He calls it “capturing glitches” and he learned this new medium quite serendipitously. In a design class, a printer malfunctioned on one of the professor’s students. Instead of throwing the print away, Pomara scanned the image back into the computer and started working with it.
“I magnified, distorted and remade the glitch. And, I realized I could even glitch the images myself, intentionally,” Pomara said. “I’ve broken a few printers.”