All Articles
All Articles

Charged: Moving Art Forward with Bryce Wolkowitz

An interview with the owner and curator of the NYC gallery at the forefront of digital art

by Kat Herriman
on 19 June 2014

Slightly obscured by the glare of the gallery’s impossibly tall and tinted windows, the lines of Robert Currie’s wiry, site-specific installation stretch toward the entrance of Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery. Unassumingly elegant, Currie’s sculpture looks untouched by human hands, but like a majority of the work shown in the Chelsea gallery, the veneer of flawless execution masks careful engineering. It is this seamless blend of art and science that has fascinated gallerist Bryce Wolkowitz throughout his career and that prompted him to open his eponymous space in 2001. “When I finally decided to open my gallery, I surveyed the landscape to figure out where I could have some degree of impact in the big marketplace that is the New York art world,” he says. “I remember realizing their wasn’t a place fully committed to showing this idea of the moving image, a place with a deep degree of confidence that [digital] really was the most cutting-edge medium of my generation.”

BryceWolkowitzHeadShot.jpg BryceWolkowitzGallery.jpg

One of the first gallerists to pursue an almost all-digital and video program, Wolkowitz developed a strong group of early supporters that continues to expand as technically-driven artists continue to multiply. Sitting in an office decorated with lighted panels by Jim Campbell and Yorgos Alexopoulus, the lifelong collector shared his insights into the brave new world of digital art.

Video art is still something that institutions struggle to exhibit effectively. Were there challenges when you first opened on how to show the work?

Early on, I realized that if there was going to be any degree of success selling video art, it had to be very accessible to the collector. And that is something I still seek out for myself and preach internally. It has to function very simply—to be, in a term, plug and play, which in many ways was a breakthrough concept. I think in the past collectors had this idea of ‘Wait, I can’t buy that. That’s moving-image based work,’ but that’s because the cumbersomeness of the systems. I think the complexity of the technology impeded a connection from a collector standpoint.

When did you see a shift toward digital art?

Around 2000 there were emerging artists who were very conscious about the way their work looked, functioned and the simplicity of the system. Part of that simplicity is custom electronics. It’s not off-the-shelf, it’s actually manufactured in the artists’ studios. Of course, that takes knowledge and a background that not everybody has. I would say half if not three-quarters of the artists we work with don’t necessarily have fine art degrees, but do have computer engineering or science degrees. That’s the thing that really excites me: to work with artists that have the capacity to merge art, technology and design in a beautiful way.

Do you see sub-genres emerging in the digital space?

I’m not overly conscious of trends in the community. It really is few and far between the artist that has a great idea and the artist who has a great idea but has also figured out the system. Again, we are talking about technology more often than not. And for myself, selling this work, I have to have a high degree of confidence and belief that that system has really been tested.

Have you noticed a shift in awareness among collectors?

Our new media business is certainly at an all time high. I think that there is greater diversity in terms of collectors who are more interested in moving image–based work than ever before. In a lot of ways it has to do with this overall merging of art, technology and design, and collectors who are not just looking at it in a silo, but looking at it for it’s sculptural appeal or for it’s light-based appeal.

What has you most excited looking toward the future?

One of the things that really excites me is scale. A number of the artists we work with and across the medium have the capacity to work large. Jim Campbell, for instance, who just created a 700-foot spiraling LED ribbon for the San Diego airport. With digital art comes the ability to work on a scale that has never been approximated before. Because we live surrounded by so much media we’ve grown accustomed to scale, but when you are looking at it under the guise of fine art and something that is truly unique, I think it's a very new concept.

Images courtesy of Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery

The CH25 is a showcase of creators and innovators from a broad range of disciplines who are currently working to drive the world forward.

Kathleen Supové

The NYC performance artist who’s radically reinventing the piano recital

Read More
I like pieces that are virtuosic, that show off the piano and what it can do, and are awe-inspiring

Matt Kenyon

Fusing art and technology to disrupt concepts of corporate America

Read More
I want the work to live in the world and circulate, so it can generate more dialogue

Vanessa Newman

Redesigning pregnancy for the post-gender generation with Butchbaby & Co.

Read More
I want my customers to feel comfortable and unchanged, in that becoming pregnant didn't take away from or compromise their identity

Douglas Riboud + Justin Guilbert

How a mission to create great coconut water led to a whole new way of doing business

Read More
We’ve made a conscious decision to be as transparent and honest as we can, and let people decide for themselves

Corinne Joachim Sanon

The chocolatier bringing social change to Haiti and bean-to-bar chocolate to the world

Read More
Seeing the poverty surrounding me and the lack of jobs and opportunity bothered me

Meredith Perry

How searching the Internet helped a 22-year-old invent wireless electricity

Read More
It’s not about where the information is, it’s about how you use the tools

Tal Danino

The bioengineer who’s programming DNA to fight cancer

Read More
[Manipulating genes] is very new, people are just learning how to program these organisms

Kegan Schouwenburg

Revolutionizing orthotics through 3D-printed insoles

Read More
What orthotics do is they effectively change the geometry of what your alignment is like

Cynthia Breazeal

How an emotional, empathetic robot named Jibo stands to revolutionize communication

Read More
The thing that's so provocative about social robots is that it's fundamentally a community technology

Melissa Kushner

Addressing the needs of orphans and vulnerable children in Malawi through microenterprise

Read More
Poverty is complicated, there is an increasing temptation and pressure in the development space to oversimplify things

Leopoldine Huyghues Despointes

The young filmmaker and non-profit founder who just wants people to follow their dreams

Read More
I feel confident and ready to accomplish so much more, the movement is on

Dan Barasch + James Ramsey

A quest to make the future brighter—underground

Read More
We both share a passion for groundbreaking technology and a shared love of New York

George Arriola and Monohm

An heirloom electronic for the post-smartphone era

Read More
We agonized during the design process as all hyper-obsessed craftspeople should

Joshua Harker

Pushing the boundaries of sculpture with intricate 3D printing

Read More
My intent was to explore and depict the architecture of the imagination, to interpret and share forms evident in the mind’s eye

Sabine Seymour

A future where smart clothes are as ubiquitous as zippers

Read More
In the future you will not buy a piece of 'functional' clothing without SoftSpot

Roxie Darling

From un-shampoo to transgender identity, the NYC colorist boldly defining the next chapter of hair

Read More
Hair color is as much a science as it is a craft

Jonathan Sparks

Reinventing electronic music by inventing multi-disciplinary instruments

Read More
Recorded music is becoming so cheap, so the value of music is now in live performance

Pauline van Dongen

The Dutch designer blazing the wearable technology path

Read More
I’m fascinated by concepts of change, movement, energy and perception; since they are closely related to the way we experience the world

Tarren Wolfe

The next-generation appliance making kitchens greener—literally

Read More
Our goal is to provide food for everyone in the world, and the best place to start is in our very own community

LaToya Ruby Frazier

Documenting the slow, troubling change in Braddock, Pennsylvania

Read More
I am not a journalist, I am a conceptual documentary artist using my visual expression for building narratives that are unseen and unheard

Lulu Mickelson

A civic leader bringing change to NYC through design

Read More
Human-centered design is one of the many tools that we can use to better engage the public

Marcus Weller

Using technology to turn motorcycle helmet design on its head

Read More
I was taken aback both by the number of people that doubted it, and by the equally large number of people that got behind it

Eelke Plasmeijer

The locally driven restaurant that’s upending Balinese food culture

Read More
We really try to keep things simple and let the produce do the talking

Sarah Kunst

The entrepreneur single-handedly changing the landscape for women in tech

Read More
People who live on a planet that is half women but can never seem to find any when they need one, I have solved your problem

Alex Kalman

The tiny museum in Manhattan that’s redefining museums

Read More
The mission is to put this small simple and powerful tool into the hands of as many people as possible
Loading More...