Welcome to the
T E C H N O S A L O N
CREATING A WORLD OF ART NEAR WALL ST.
Deep in the heart of the Financial District, something is happening: It's called art. But while there are few galleries, don't call the area Silicon Gallery yet.
AUDART/AUDCOM, 60 Broad Street
Internet http://www.audart.com - email:
A block or so from the New York Stock Exchange, at 60 Broad Street, Audrey Regan and Neil London are seated beneath a silk tent. set over a metallic floor. It's nearly midnight, but AUDART and AUDCOM are busy. The gallery crew at this hybrid that both shows art and provides web services is busy setting up an exhibit. Touch a button on one work of art by an artist who goes by the moniker "Shalom" and it plays back a soundtrack; touch another button and the lighting shifts. Jon Singer has carved images into rollers which, when you push them through paint, create patterns of faces repeated ad infinitum: Dick Gregory, Yuka Honda, Celine Dion. Jacqui Taylor Basker created a gallery/garden as a work of art. Even as they put up their latest exhibit in the perpetual twilight of AUDART, they know the art will come down soon. But they also know that when they put their show on the web, which they do regularly, they plan to leave it there indefinitely.
"Why take it down?" London asks, "Why not have your archival material available?" Art and the internet have been moving closer together from the start and more and more the way MTV revolutionized TV, art and technology are revolutionizing the web. Audart, at 60 broad Street., is at the vanguard of a movement today mixing technology and art. Located at the southern tip of Silicon Alley (Mayor Giuliani even made that designation official), they present art, sometimes with a technological tinge, and provide web design, creation and hosting services.
The talk as they prepare a show ranges from T-1 lines to fiber-optics to talk about which artists to show. The technology works its way into the art, with monitors filled with fluid images morphing and remorphing like murals constantly being remade. And the art works itself into technology as they design websites, do live webcasts and do work on commission for companies from communications firms to clubs that want to go on-line.
"The internet did to telecommunications what rock'n'roll did to music," London says. "It blew it wide open....It's really fantastic and down here its really Gotham."
AUDART has something that you absorb the moment that you walk in: Attitude. But in a good way, liberating technology from the cool view of the world. They set up the gallery in what was once the old Dresdner Bank: Its vault remains, housing artwork. "It was new for us to take over a bank on Wall Street, "London says. And they push aside efforts to pigeonhole them by comparing them to anything else. "it's a non-concept," Regan says. "It's unto itself." They're probably right.
At after midnight, despite the projections that Lower Manhattan will be bustling, the neighborhood is quieter than the fabled night before Christmas. At AUDART, and AUDCOM (their company that does the webwork), they are very busy.
"This is more like home," Regan says. "We're not going out and taking random artists. We're incorporating all the disciplines. It has to create itself. You have to create fertile ground. This is an open door. Art is the magnet for everything. This neighborhood needs it."
Art - and the internet, at least since they created AUDCOM which they use to put themselves on the web and others. They tinker in a space with with a wide airplane control tower like window, a carona of computers, glued to the keyboards and screen at times with the fascination of someone on a drug piping electronic fixes through the open-24-hours-a-day T-1 lines. This is a potion absorbed via the eyes and ears.
"They belong together," Regan says of their wedding of art and technology. London talks of the gallery's "multi-pronged identity."
But AUDART is also a place on the web where you can find them at http://www.audart.com. Their shows go up and remain on the web, including images of openings as well as the artists works of art. The audience, which continues to wander through their web-sibit (to coin a word for an exhibit on-line) is "inter-generational," but they also draw crowds against all odds to the area for shows. Thousands of people showed up a a recent show, bringing together artists and art from Andy Warhol's Factory. What Rent is doing for theater, AUDART is trying to do for art: Shaking it by the collar, waking it to the fact that the worldwide web is watching. They're setting up tents of artwork in a potentially bland techno wasteland. AUDART's audience mixes Bohemians with business people, and the company deals with multinational companies as well as local businesses and clubs. Even the place is hard to describe, halfway between a spaceship and a cave, a gallery and a happening.
This, in a way, is using the web to help create a scene. London and Regan talk about about all of this as "the salon concept" and plan on bringing in dance, and theater. But whether it's deliberate or just taste, a lot of thearter is tinged with technology. James Warhola's paintings have a sci-fi feel, like strange, purplish robots staring from the walls or scenes from a child's dreams: He has illustrated children's books. And while the web-art wedding seems inevitable the truth of the matter is that this was a natural almost organic growth in response to the Silicon Alley businesses that were coming to Audart's fantastic opening night exhibition parties. "We couldn't help overhearing the complaints most companies were having with slow connections to the net and the high cost of quality website creation and graphics production," says London. "In the same crowd of people we would hear a complaint and find the appropriate solution in another discussion across the room. We took our concept of integration, introducing those who made art to those who love art, into the technology solutions world. Weve become hosts to the latest cutting edge solutions and introduce them to a company very much in the same way we would introduce an artist to a collector." Hence, AUDCOM, a "solutions" company with a strong focus on internet and intranet issues, providing high speed access to the internet, local circuit providing, web, CD-ROM and video design and production services, event webcasting and more. A comprehensive "internet agency" where you can find a total solution or just one important piece of the puzzle.
But while they began using technology to serve other companies, they also integrated with their own work. And the gallery found that it could build a following, as well as show its work on the web. And in fact, for some people it became a virtual gallery, real only on the web rather than visiting in person.
"The Web," London says, "became a wonderful platform. We adopted a platform of integrating art and technology."
Of course the gallery and the internet company get email from around the world. (email to firstname.lastname@example.org) But that has begun to translate into visits from people who found the gallery on-line first. Their webcasts also, they say have drawn big virtual crowds. "They walk in everyday," Regan says. "Sent by a friend." Nobody has talked much about the role of the web in tourism, but it has become a huge boon for places off the beaten track such as AUDART (even though it's next to the NY Stock Exchange). And strangely and simply enough, the Wall Street crowd is beginning to discover AUDART - both as a gallery and an internet agency. AUDART co-sponsored and has supported the events of the Alliance for Downtown, which certainly didn't hurt.
"What they love is the experience of coming in,"
"It's always a surprise."
Audrey Regan and Neil London at home at AUDART
MANHATTAN MIRROR / MAY 97 Peter Biancalli
For information call: Neil London 954-296-5204