Sewickley artist takes to iPad to create own brand of art
Ever since they were introduced a few short years ago, iPads and even iPhones have become a popular way for people to combine their real life with cyberspace while on the go. And, for artist Gregg Liberi of Sewickley, they have become virtual studios for creating art all unto itself.
Now, 642 drawings created by Liberi over the past three years are on display in the exhibit “Gregg Liberi: Digit(al) Art” at 707 Penn Gallery, Downtown. That's right, you read correctly — 642! Not all at once, mind you, but available to the touch, on two iPads arranged back to back in the center of the gallery, as well as in a slide show off to one corner.
The slideshow features 150 of Liberi's earliest iPad drawings, but does not include gene names in the images as it does on the rest of the drawings, which all contain gene names.
“After each drawing, I navigate to a gene database and do a word search based on free association of thoughts that I had during the drawing process,” Liberi says. “When I find one that feels right, I place the gene name in the image.”
The drawings are inspired by both the centuries-old tradition of detailed scientific botanical drawings and the elaborate cellular intricacies of contemporary biology and gene research.
“Formally, this is probably why much of my work has a vignette quality of something that is isolated, as if it is being studied as in botanical or scientific anatomical drawings or images of cells under a microscope,” Liberi says.
Beneath the two iPads, which are mounted chest-high on stands for easy access, the floor is covered in an oval-shaped image made from red river rock and lava stone. Liberi says the shape is loosely based on the dorsal view of the human brain, with the left and right hemispheres separated to make the path for viewers to approach the iPads.
Aside from the light glowing from the iPads, the gallery is dark with subtle light cast from spotlights arranged above that bathe the stone shape on the floor in soft light, visually creating a vignette that relates to the iPad drawings.
The drawings are accompanied by a soundtrack that includes audio vignettes of children playing at a beach, a distant thunderstorm, airplanes taking off and landing, a secluded brook, bird song, and the sound of glass shattering in flames. It climaxes with a portion of the aria “Ombra Mai Fu” from George Frideric Handel's opera “Xerxes,” performed by Germany's experimental musical group DigiEnsemble Berlin, entirely on smartphones and tablets.
“I wanted a classical piece for the soundtrack because I liked the idea of associating a newer technology artwork to a creative work that is firmly rooted in an historically classical tradition,” Liberi says. “I liked this particular piece because it expresses a simple and profound appreciation for the shade that a tree provides and that no harm should come to this tree. To me, it's a vignette of a person and an object and a study of their interaction.”
A creative director with U.S. Steel, Liberi says that, when he first got an iPhone in 2009, he wondered if I could draw on it.
“After a search on the app store, I found the apps Brushes and Sketchbook Pro,” he says. “The touchscreen made the difference in the process, and I began drawing daily on the iPhone and posting the drawings online.”
Since then he says, “I have not stopped.”
Liberi is prolific, producing at least one drawing per day, which uses the previous day's image as its starting point. In fact, this reviewer has watched the artist's continual development of these drawings through Facebook almost every day since he began drawing this way, making it possible to view the work on a computer, or even on a phone, in much the same way as you would see it here in the gallery.
When the iPad came out, Liberi says he switched to the larger format and his drawings became more detailed, resembling more closely the kind of drawings he created before going to a completely digital format.
“The portability and accessibility of drawing on digital devices has allowed me to continue to make art wherever I am and however busy, as long as I have my iPad — and that's pretty much all of the time.”
Kurt Shaw is the art critic for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Big plays cost Steelers defense in 43-19 preseason loss at Bills
- Rossi: Beleaguered Steelers need MVP from Big Ben
- Happ’s strong start, Ramirez’s homer pace Pirates past Rockies
- Steelers notebook: Tomlin mum on Bryant suspension
- Patience serves as virtue amid pitching prospect Glasnow’s quest for majors
- Pitt star running back Conner remains grounded despite success
- Pennsylvania welfare employees targeted in crackdown
- University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute marks 30 years with eye toward future
- QB Vick hits ground running in debut
- Strong-armed outfielder Garcia growing into all-around threat
- College football preview: Big Ten