Davis at Steel House

‘Memento Mori’: programming impermanence

Jan 03, 2019
A photograph of a skull is transformed into a series of some print and many digital renditions in Nathan Kroms Davis’ “Memento Mori.”

Rockland — Steel House Projects will present “Memento Mori,” a solo exhibition of work by technologist and artist Nathan Kroms Davis, beginning with an opening reception Wednesday, Jan. 9, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Steel House South, 639 Main St.

“Memento Mori” (Latin for “remember that you will die”) is a set of 12,978 images of a skull. These images are shown continuously on five monitors in the gallery space, with a selection shown in print on the wall. Each image is an algorithmic and geometric transfiguration of the same single black-and-white source photograph. Each image is unique, disposable, and replaceable. No person — including the artist — has seen them all.

In this work, the artist considers: What does it mean to create art that no one has seen … and whose step-by-step unfolding is beyond human capacity to replicate, monitor or direct? It means to surrender to the processes of physical reality and causality and to recognize the limits and futility of control. In the context of Zen, it might mean a step towards liberation from attachment. In the context of public life, it might mean a fearful step backwards from responsibility.

Davis is interested in many things and has acquired the skills to pursue and combine some of them in novel ways. He has worked in finance, art, music and technology and is a co-founder of Steel House. He holds a Ph.D. in music composition and theory from the University of California, Davis; and an MA in Mathematics from Brandeis University. Davis lives and works in Rockland with his wife and their two cats.

“Memento Mori” will remain on view through Feb. 15. The gallery is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and by appointment. Steel House Projects, co-directed by Alexis Iammarino and Maeve O’Regan, is a multidisciplinary art space providing access to contemporary artists, thinkers and technologists through exhibitions, workshops, talks, events and more.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401 or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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