The hierarchy of investigation required by technology, biology, zoology, psychology and all the -ologies acts as artistic fodder for Stanford Professor Gail Wight’s acrobatic, elegant reformulations. Wight’s confidence in conceiving projects that conflate art and science is just the beginning of her genius. Her wit and humor are matched easily by her elegance of craft.
In her current body of work, The Hexapodarium, Wight takes fly wings she collected from succumbed flies, and magnifies them many fold, then composes exquisite botanical gardens that are breathtakingly complex. “Working primarily in sculpture, video, interactive media and print, I attempt to construct biological allegories that tease out the impacts of life sciences on the living: human, animal, and other. The interplay between art and biology, theories of evolution, cognition and the animal state-of-being are themes that have, over the last two decades, become central to my art.
Gail Wight’s continued interest in deep time is manifested in earlier exhibitions. In 2010 Wight took photographic records of early mammal skeletal remains, then recast the tiny bones as unique crystalline forms. With The Spider and the Fly, she expands upon the fossil record in the phenomena of flora which reference the existing specie, but with an exotic twist. “The fossil record for insects dates back approximately 400 million years. Often, when I find an expired fly on my studio windowsill, Iʼm comforted by the knowledge that these small creatures will most likely be glancing their way around spider webs long after the human-centric environment outside my window has disappeared. Thereʼs a lovely concept in biology called “convergence”, which attempts to explain the emergence of similar characteristics among vastly different plants and animals. In The Spider and the Fly, I toy with the visual manifestations of convergence, and hint at potential psychological similarities.”
Gail Wight is Associate Professor in the Department of Art & Art History at Stanford University where she teaches Experimental Media Arts. She holds an MFA in New Genres from the San Francisco Art Institute where she was a Javits Fellow, and a BFA from the Studio for Interrelated Media at Massachusetts College of Art. Wight’s work has been exhibited internationally, in venues including the Natural History Museum in London; the National Art Museum of China in Beijing; Cornerhouse, Manchester; and Foxy Productions in NYC. Wightʼs art has been featured in Art & Science Now by Stephen Wilson; Ingeborg Reichleʼs Kunst aus dem Labor and Art in the Age of Technoscience; Sherry Turkleʼs Evocative Objects; thing world: International Triennial of New Media Art edited by Zhang Ga and Fan Diʼan; Kunst nach der Wissenschaft by Susanne Witzgall and the forthcoming Bioart by William Myers, as well as many other books and catalogs. Her exhibition record includes nearly two dozen solo exhibits throughout North America and Great Britain. Among her many artist residencies are western Australia’s Symbiotica, Art & Archaeology at Stonehenge, the Rockefeller Foundation in Bellagio, and San Francisco’s Exploratorium. Collections include MoMA, Yale University, San Jose Museum of Art, The Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts at the Legion of Honor, Sevilleʼs Centro Andaluz de Art Contemporaneo; Rene di Rosa Foundation, and Berkeley Art Museum among others. Wight was nominated a Visionary Pioneer of Media Art by Ars Electronica in 2014.