Dragon Street's Zhulong Gallery is a Beacon for New Media Art

Dragon Street's Zhulong Gallery is a Beacon for New Media Art
Zhulong Gallery

Zhulong Gallery, with its glass façade and dragon shaped gallery space, aims to be a new force in the Dallas new media scene, with international context, a public involvement component and a broad definition of new media that sparks conversations about how to define the popular genre.

Zhulong's inaugural Satellite XBT 1 is new media work by 11 artists that interpret and respond to data, culture, and projection of information through space and time in digital, two- and three-dimensional pieces. The title Satellite highlights the art space mission to be a technologically-driven gallery that is a hub for receiving and transmitting art and ideas.

Aja Martin
Aja Martin

Aja Martin, the new Zhulong gallery director, has worked for the Nasher Sculpture Center and Dallas Museum of Art among others, and has consulted with non-profits including La Reunion TX, the Meadows Forum for Art and Urban Engagement and The Aurora Project. She is also an art writer and developing student of new media who wrote a thesis comparing The High Line, an elevated public park and art space in New York City, to Second Life and noting design characteristics that make it feel like a walk through a virtual model. For Zhulong, Martin is into bringing virtual ideas into reality.

"We wanted to create a space for Dallas that was meaningful and different," she says. "In the relationship between arts and technology you can use any medium to explore those ideas."

The tall glass façade at Zhulong acts as one giant projection screen where art work or light shows can cycle, showing street side as a translucent a canvas.

Zhulong (pronounced Chu-long) Gallery is named for a Chinese mythological dragon that controls the passing of time, the days and the seasons. With the head of a man, one giant vertical eye and the body of a snake, the dragon breathes in, and winter winds blow. Out, the hot breath of summer.

As Martin explains it, the dragon blinks. On. The dragon blinks. Off. Digital lights flash, binary controls fire. On. And off. The light of day. The darkness of night.

"It's the idea of new media coming from the simple technology of on and off, the one and the zero. And the aspect of light." Martin says.

An aerial view of the gallery would reveal a building with a fiery face glowing onto the street, its sectioned belly rumbling with new forms of media art stretching back through the tail and saddled with a second floor coming soon, where patrons can enjoy the open-air atmosphere, the Dallas skyline and outdoor art installations.

"We're looking to be a little bit more than a gallery, to be involved with the community and cultural institutions, we want to be a communal in space in a way," Martin says.

The inaugural exhibition, currently on display by appointment only, serves as a preview of Zhulong programming, with one to five pieces from each of the 11 artists, and several will be back for solo shows at Zhulong in the next 8 months. Satellite features international artists as well as some Dallas favorites who are changing the global scene, like Ira Greenberg, the director of the SMU Center for Creative Computation (C 3) whose work gleefully crosses the line between computation and art.

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Another name to watch from Satellite is Erika Blumenfeld, a transmedia artist focused on environment and the creative capture of the essence of light. Her series "Light Recordings" contains prints from light-capturing devices she creates as experiments, attempting to capture atmospheric and astronomic phenomena. She is in Quatar right now attending an ecological art program, but when she comes to Zhulong for a solo show in 2015, she'll bring new ideas about where media and ecology meet.

Their work is joined by James Geurts' considerations of geography and themes of borders, tidal zones, fault-lines, horizons, meridians, sky and heavenly bodies. He uses fluorescent lights and reconfigured light as color and video as painting. He'll be kicking around Dallas in July, checking out the local landscape to design a series of work for Zhulong in September.

Satellite artist Max Schich is a new professor in the Arts and Technology Program at UT Dallas and a self-dubbed anti-disciplinary researcher who combines statistics and visualization in a collaborative process that embraces humanistic inquiry, physics, computer science and information design.

Chris Lattanzio, the gallery's soft-spoken founder, is a Dallas artist who thought New York was the place to work until he decided to return home and get serious about his art. Now he's celebrating over a decade of furniture making and design and "creating lines to follow" in his illuminated wooden reliefs. He was also a featured artist at Aurora last fall and he will be back for a solo show at Zhulong in October.

Other artists in the Satellite XBT 1 show include Hiba Ali, Lily & Honglei, Susan Giles, Paul Hertz, Anh-Thuy Nguyen and Lauren Woods. Woods is perhaps best known for her installation at the historic water fountain at the Dallas County Records Building as a comment on the remnants of a "White Only" sign that once hung over the fountain.

Zhulong organizers hope future programming will include a summer, collaboration with Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, art installations in public Dallas spaces, collaborations with artists from Mexico City and artist-led labs in the gallery space, including a lab on computation by Ira Greenberg during the Satellite XBT 1, details to be announced.

This summer Zhulong shows include Alexandra Gorczynski May 17 to June 28 and Jeremy Couillard July 11 to August 8. So keep an eye out. 1302 Dragon St. Tuesday-Saturday 10 am - 5 pm and by appointment. Free entry.


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