THE INSTITUTE OF CONTEMPORARY ART/BOSTON

Superhuman vision, once the stuff of comic books and cartoons, is no longer a fantasy.

New technologies have pushed the limits of the visible world, allowing us to see almost anything—from the elemental particles of matter to the far reaches of outer space. Both what can be seen and how we are able to see are being radically transformed in ways that have profound implications for advanced science, global politics, and everyday life. Super Vision examines this phenomenon in the context of contemporary art, presenting work by 27 international artists who are defining the distinctive character of the contemporary visual experience.

Among the breathtaking and provocative works in the exhibitions are pieces that seem to bend, twist, morph, or enter a new dimension, as artists such as Anish Kapoor, Bridget Riley, and James Turrell use optical effects to alter the way we perceive ourselves and the space around us. Works by Mona Hatoum, Harun Farocki, and Chantal Akerman explore disembodied sight-while some technologies replace the human body, Hatoum's Corps étranger travels inside it with a video portrait of her body's interior.

Super Vision also considers how technology transforms artists' understanding of the physical world-from Ed Ruscha's conceptual map to Sigmar Polke's depiction of a carbon atom. Today's vision breaks wide open the possibilities for human knowledge and experience, but as the insidious web cam in Albert Oehlen's painting Dose and the chaotic energy of works by Julie Mehretu and Jeff Koons show us, the effects can also be threatening. Like the realization of any fantasy, this powerful new vision is both thrilling and dangerous.


 

Major funding for Super Vision has been provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, with additional support from Etant donnés: The French-American Fund for Contemporary Art, a program of FACE, and The Cultural Services of the French Embassy.

 

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