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October 11, 2005

UMBC's Center for Art and Visual Culture presents Blur of the Otherworldly: Contemporary Art, Technology, and the Paranormal

October 20 - December 17, 2005

Contact: Thomas Moore
Director of Arts & Culture

Susan Hiller: Wild TalentsFrom October 20 through December 17, 2005, UMBC’s Center for Art and Visual Culture (CAVC) presents Blur of the Otherworldly: Contemporary Art, Technology, and the Paranormal, organized at the CAVC by Mark Alice Durant and Jane D. Marsching. This major traveling exhibition features twenty-eight contemporary artists whose work employs modern communication technologies (photography, film, video, computers, radio, internet, and digital media) to explore culturally inbred questions/ superstitions concerning parallel worlds to our own.

From the infamous Cottingham fairy photographs through Victorian spiritualist images to recent grainy images of Sasquatch and sky-borne saucers, photographs have attempted to provide the material of proof of the otherworldly. The earliest photographic images rendered a detailed impression of the subjects materiality, and, through the process of doubling and repeating, seemed to destabilize reality by producing the ghost image, a dematerialization of the three-dimensional world. In response to this strange new technology, some Victorian minds associated photography with the occult, believing the human eye did not see at all, that human perception was blind to the spirit world. Occultists conjectured that the air was charged with floating images and disembodied spirits, and they set out to prove their claims by documenting episodes of visitations. Photography was the perfect tool conscripted in this effort.

Today, the amount of attention devoted to paranormal phenomena—UFOs, demonic possession, psychics, ghosts—in the media indicates that photography’s early fascinations have not disappeared. Millennial angst, bewildering leaps of science, wildly improbable technological inventions, and ever-decreasing wilderness as human sprawl grows exponentially, make other worlds once again appear possible, even probable, and definitely alluring. Our escalating desire to prove the existence of another dimension (no matter which one) is linked to photography, with its history of providing us with our proofs. Seduced by the invisible in the face of the mediums relentless and dull dependence upon the physical, photography as a tool of fact (in science), fantasy (in spirit photography), and invention (in the hands of artists) is exploring new frontiers once again.

Zoe Beloff: The Ideoplastic Materializations of Eva CIncluded in the exhibition are works by Mark Amerika, Zoe Beloff, Diane Bertolo, Jeremy Blake, Corrine May Botz, Susan Collins, Gregory Crewdson, Paul DeMarinis, Spencer Finch, Ken Goldberg, Susan Hiller, Marko Maetamm, Miya Masaoka, Jennifer and Kevin McCoy, Maria Miranda and Norie Neumark, Mariko Mori, Paul Pfeiffer, Fred Ressler, John Roach, Ted Serios, Leslie Sharpe, Chrysanne Stathacos, Thomson & Craighead, and Suzanne Treister.

Blur of the Otherworldly: Contemporary Art, Technology, and the Paranormal will be accompanied by a 200 page fully illustrated catalogue with essays on the significance of paranormal and the supernatural in contemporary culture by Lynne Tillman, associate professor and writer-in-residence at the University at Albany, and Marina Warner, novelist and former scholar at the Getty Center for History of Art and Humanities. Mark Alice Durant and Jane D. Marsching, co-curators of the exhibition, will contribute extensive essays on the interplay between science, art, and the occult as it relates to the artworks in the exhibition. The publication will contain over eighty illustrations in color and black and white as well as a checklist for the exhibition, illustrated timeline, and a bibliography. Published by the Center for Art and Visual Culture, as the ninth title of its Issues in Cultural Theory series, Blur of the Otherworldly: Contemporary Art, Technology, and the Paranormal will be distributed internationally by Distributed Art Publishers (DAP), in New York.

Three QuickTime clips about the exhibition are available:
John Roach discusses Transmissions from Beyond
Miya Masaoka discusses Piece for Plants
Co-curator Mark Alice Durant discusses the exhibition


  • An Opening Reception will be held on Thursday, October 20th at 5 pm.
  • On October 28th, the exhibition hosts the Paranormal Party. Costumes are optional but encouraged. This event is sponsored by the CAVC, the UMBC Alumni Association, the UMBC Student Events Board and the UMBC Student Government Association. 7 to 10 pm. Admission is free.
  • On November 3rd, the Center for Art and Visual Culture presents a Panel Discussion in conjunction with the exhibition. The panel will be moderated by Mark Alice Durant, curator and professor of Visual Arts at UMBC; and Jane D. Marsching, curator and assistant professor, Studio Foundation and Studio for Interrelated Media, Massachusetts College of Art, Boston. Panelists will include Lynne Tillman, novelist, critic, essayist and professor/writer in residence at the University at Albany; artist Diane Bertolo, and Jeffrey Sconce, associate professor in the Screen Cultures Program, Northwestern University. This panel will be a conversation among a small group of scholars, artists and writers whose works have involved the subject of the paranormal. From gods and ghosts to telepathy and Electronic Voice Phenomena, issues such as the otherworldly as metaphor; technology and the shape of imagination; and art as a site for exploration of belief and superstition will be discussed. 6–7:30 pm at UMBC’s Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery. Admission is free.

Fred Ressler: Shadow PhotoAbout the Center for Art and Visual Culture
The Center for Art and Visual Culture is a non-profit organization dedicated to the study of contemporary art and visual culture, critical theory, art and cultural history, and the relationship between society and the arts. The CAVC serves as a forum for students, faculty, and the general public for the discussion of important aesthetic and social issues of the day. Disciplines represented include painting, sculpture, drawing, printmaking, photography, digital art, video, film, television, design, architecture, advertising, and installation and performance art.

Since 1989, the CAVC has incorporated a number of public programs into its exhibition programming schedule to further impact the communities it serves. Symposia, lecture series, conferences, film series, visiting artist series, and residencies have all been fundamental in an effort to create an ongoing dialogue about contemporary art and culture. The Center has also initiated a number of projects with Baltimore and surrounding schools systems to integrate the contemporary artist and their concerns into the classroom. These projects take place on-site at both middle schools and high schools and are team taught by the instructors at these schools, professional artists, and students from the CAVC’s Internship Program.

The Center produces one to two exhibition catalogues each year. Each document is fully illustrated and contains critical essays on the given subject by a variety of distinguished professionals in the field. Recent publications include Postmodernism: A Virtual Discussion and Paul Rand: Modernist Design. These books and catalogues are published and are distributed internationally through Distributed Art Publishers in New York.

Since 1992, the Center for Art and Visual Culture has actively pursued the organization of exhibitions that contain the aesthetic, theoretical, and educational potential to reach both a national and international audience. Over the years, the CAVC has traveled these exhibition projects to a broad spectrum of museums, professional non-profit galleries, and universities national and internationally. Recent traveling exhibitions include:

White: Whiteness and Race in Contemporary Art (2003)
Fred Wilson: Objects and Installations (2001)
Adrian Piper: A Retrospective (1999)
Bruno Monguzzi: A Designer’s Perspective (1998)
Minimal Politics (1997)
Kate Millet, Sculpture: The First 38 Years (1997)
Layers: Contemporary Collage from St. Petersburg, Russia (1995/96)
Notes In Time: Leon Golub and Nancy Spero (1995)

Chrysanne Stathacos: The Aura ProjectBeyond the scope of these traveling exhibitions, the Center for Art and Visual Culture also undertakes an exhibition schedule that includes a Faculty Biennial, and projects such as the Joseph Beuys Tree Partnership. As part of the educational mission of the CAVC, one graduate thesis exhibition and one undergraduate senior exhibition are scheduled on a yearly basis.

This multi-faceted focus for presenting exhibitions, projects and scholarly research publications focused on contemporary art and cultural issues positions the Center for Art and Visual Culture in a unique position within the mid-Atlantic region.

Hours of Operation
Sunday: closed
Monday: closed
Tuesday: 10 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Wednesday: 10 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Thursday: 10 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Friday: 10 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

UMBC Artsline (24 hour recorded message): 410-455-ARTS
Center for Art and Visual Culture: 410-455-3188
Media inquiries only: 410-455-3370

UMBC Arts website:
UMBC News Releases:
Center for Art and Visual Culture:
Blur of the Otherworldly website:
Distributed Art Publishers:


  • From Baltimore and points north, proceed south on I-95 to exit 47B. Take Route 166 toward Catonsville and then follow signs to the Fine Arts Building.
  • From I-695, take Exit 12C (Wilkens Avenue) and continue one-half mile to the entrance of UMBC at the roundabout intersection of Wilkens Avenue and Hilltop Road. Turn left and follow signs to the Fine Arts Building.
  • From Washington and points south, proceed north on I-95 to Exit 47B. Take Route 166 toward Catonsville and then follow signs to the Fine Arts Building.
  • Daytime metered visitor parking is available in Lot 10, near the Administration Building. Visitor parking regulations are enforced on all University calendar days. Hilltop Circle and all campus roadways require a parking permit unless otherwise marked.
  • Online campus map:

Images for Media
High resolution images for media (including all shown here) are available online: or by email or postal mail.
Images in this release:
Susan Hiller: Wild Talents
Zoe Beloff: The Ideoplastic Materializations of Eva C
Fred Ressler: Shadow Photo
Chrysanne Stathacos: The Aura Project
Jennifer and Kevin McCoy: Frame Grab from Horror Chase

Jennifer and Kevin McCoy: Frame Grab from Horror Chase

Posted by tmoore at October 11, 2005 4:34 PM