Maximo Ramos

Maximo Ramos

Exhibition Catalog

Title: 22 Premio Internacional de Gráfica Máximo Ramos 2012
Writer and curator: Anne Heyvaert
Publisher: Centro Torrente Ballester
Date of Publication: 2012
Language: Spanish and English
Download as PDF (3.8mb)
Available from Centro Torrente Ballester

Bad At Sports

Bad at Sports Episode 244: Nathaniel Stern
by Duncan MacKenzie

“Bad at Sports is a weekly podcast produced in Chicago that features artists talking about art and the community that makes, reviews and critiques it. Shows are usually posted each weekend and can be listened to on any computer with an internet connection and speakers or headphones.”

This audio interview (available streaming from the site, or as a download to your computer or mp3 player) begins with Nathaniel Stern rapping a bit of Beastie Boys / Q-Tip, and quickly degrades to him lovingly poking fun at his dad. It’s actually a great interview, where you can hear some off the cuff chatting with Duncan MacKenzie about hektor.netDistill LifeCompressionismWikipedia Art,Given TimeDoin’ my part to lighten the load, and more. It’s good fun, with lots of tangential stories and jokes, and many mentions of good friends and colleagues. Enjoy!

listen to or download interview on B@S

Shepherd Express

Sheperd Express / Express Milwaukee feature on Nathaniel Stern and Jessica Meuninck-GangerPast, Future Combine in ‘Print Press Play’
By Robert Tilley
This article appeared on the web and in the print edition.

“Print Press Play,” a collaboration between Jessica Meuninck-Ganger and Nathaniel Stern that blends complex printmaking with 21st-century computer art, has opened at Elaine Erickson Gallery. As digital printmakers, they create images with tone, volume, color and dimension in rippling loops of “virtual” time with prints in motion, the new direction in printmaking.

These two nationally acclaimed artists reference the seascapes of Japan’s early-19th-century printmaker Hiroshige in The Multitude, an LCD-woodcut diptych with virtual “machinima” petrels climbing, circling and swooping from one screen to the other over a shimmering sunlit harbor.

Kinnickinnic is an intricate, remarkable work of images specific to Milwaukee. Two cameras mounted on the dash of a car, one focused forward and the other into the rearview mirror, capture video of Bay View street scenes. The video is then embedded into a traditional lithograph of the driver’s view through the windshield.

“Print Press Play” runs concurrently with other works from this series in “Distill Life” at the Museum of Wisconsin Art in West Bend. With the delightful aquatint etching on copper plate, Meninas, the artists recall Velazquez in images of their studio, dancing through the doorway to meet viewers and invite them into their art.

see the original article online
see it in the print edition

MKE Journal Sentinel

milwaukee journal sentinel feature on wikipedia artStern and Meuninck-Ganger at MWA and Elaine Erickson
This article by Mary Louise Schumacher appeared in both the online and print editions of the MJS

Artists Nathaniel Stern and Jessica Meuninck-Ganger, professors of art at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, collaborate on artworks that combine some of the oldest and newest art forms.

They mount translucent prints and drawings on top of video monitors, which appear to bring moving images to life on paper. The juxtaposition of physical and virtual, tactile and electronic is wonderfully strange and novel.

Stern and Meuninck-Ganger have shown separately and together around the world. A show of their work opens Wednesday at the Museum of Wisconsin Art in West Bend. A second show “Print Press Play” opens Thursday at the Elaine Erickson Gallery, 207 E. Buffalo St.. An opening reception will be held at the Erickson Gallery from 6 to 8 p.m. and an artists’ talk at 6:30 p.m. I’ll be there!

read the entire article online
see it in the print edition

rhizome feature on wikipedia artOn Nathaniel Stern & Jessica Meuninck-Ganger’s “Passing Between” at AOP Gallery
by Christo Doherty

“This past month, Johannesburg’s AOP Gallery, a space devoted to works on paper, hosted the exhibition “Passing Between” which showcased the collaborative output between digital artist Nathaniel Stern and printmakerJessica Meuninck-Ganger. At the outset, Stern and Meuninck-Ganger approached the collaboration as a chance to learn each other’s techniques. But they quickly chose to focus on their own strengths in a process they call [Distill Life]. For Stern, the move toward printmaking comes from a long interest in the technique. In recent work, he has engaged with an expanded form of digital print making, using a hacked portable scanner to produce densely patterned sequences of natural images, in a project called Compressionism. For “Passing Between,” Stern concentrated on using digital photo frames as a medium for displaying loops of video obtained through live filming, and sampled machinima taken from Second Life. Meuninck-Ganger responded to the framed video loops with an encyclopedic range of printmaking techniques from wood block to mono print, silkscreen, etching, and photogravure. In some cases, she printed or [drew] directly on the screens of the digital photo frames; in other cases, the prints were layered over the screens creating a delicate conjunction between the fibers of the paper medium and the illumination of the underlying video. In The Gallerist, a prominent New York art dealer is portrayed anxiously perched on a [raft] in [the] middle of a lithograph while below the surface of the paper machinima sharks circle him endlessly.”

“The effect is both magical and subtle. Jessica’s images often capture a static moment from the subject matter of the video in etching or ink. The pleasure offered by the composite images comes from the interplay between the stasis of the printed image and the temporal flow of the video, producing witty and sometimes fascinating results. In the diptych [Twin City] the 2009 tornado is represented with an animated twister from Second Life. Jessica’s lithograph shows a flying pig coming to rest momentarily in alignment with its outline before whirling back to the beginning of the looped tornado. In general, the artist’s subject matter is deliberately low-key and it presents samples from their lives as artists and young parents in Milwaukee and Johannesburg exploring moments of fun, awkwardness and good humor. However, the rich range of techniques and visual allusions layered over the works also references an entire history of contemporary art and print making, ranging from Hokusai to Velazquez.”

see the original article

N Adams Transcript

north adams transcriptVirtual world crosses over to our own
This article by John E. Mitchell appeared in both the online and print editions of the North Adams Transcirpt.

ADAMS — Artist Nathaniel Stern likes to take media from the past and present and put them together without compromising the integrity of either, revealing them to be equal in artistic expression.

Stern’s show, “Arrested Time” — featuring work with collaborator Jessica Meuninck-Ganger — opens at Greylock Arts, 93 Summer St., tonight with a reception at 5:30. UPDATE: Due to a snow storm, the reception has been postponed until Saturday at 5:30. The show will feature two works — the large-scale installation “Given Time,” alongside some derivative work, and a collection of the self-described “monovids” done as part of an ongoing collaboration with Meuninck-Ganger.

“Given Time” is a screen projection featuring two life-sized avatars derived from the Internet community Second Life. This virtual space takes social networking like Facebook to a whole other level. Rather than being in the form of posting boards and messages, Second Life is like a freeform computer game in which the point of the play is to inhabit the space and get to know others around you.

Each member is represented in the three-dimensional screen world by a computer figure – an avatar – that is customized to his or her own desires based on templates supplied by Second Life. The service is the closest thing we have to a known parallel universe that we can perceive physically, rather than the more abstract psychological spaces provided by Web sites like Facebook.

Stern has used Second Life as a medium much like oil paint or marble, hand-drawing two Second Life avatars and pulling them from out of their universe and into ours. In the gallery, they exist on two large screens facing each other, and the viewer may only encounter them by walking between the screens. Thus the figures become actual existing beings in our own dimensional plane.

“Second Life became the perfect environment to situate this piece in, in that there is no time; there is no body, and yet you cannot access this space without a body,” Stern said during an interview this week. “There is no avatar without a person actually sitting there. Here, the viewer lends their body to the piece, and they become the avatar – and there’s this feedback loop where the avatar we’re looking at we’re only seeing through the other avatar’s eyes.”

The result comes from the culmination of Stern’s physical artistic efforts, combined with the more difficult realm of computer coding.

“I imagined the avatars to be very visceral and older and not as beautiful as they are,” Stern said. “The problem was that when I sketched that out, people didn’t recognize it as Second Life, and so what I wound up doing was basing it on actual avatars in Second Life and drawing on those so they still had the shape and the pretty-boy aspects, and they were recognized as being in a virtual space while still being hand-drawn.”

He added, “Making those hand-drawn elements was very difficult to figure out how to do it and put it on an avatar – making an avatar translucent actually isn’t possible in Second Life, so we had to find a lot of work-arounds in order to accomplish that. Because of those work-arounds, we weren’t able to use the built-in breathing and winking that comes with avatars. We had to hand-write our own scripted animations and introduce histograms and probability factors to make sure the blinking wasn’t perfectly timed and always in the same interval and things like that.”

The technique of building a totally customized figure through Second Life is reliant on a technical understanding of how the figures are structured. Prims are single-part digital objects that are used to create portions of a Second Life figure – for instance, hair – by attaching them to the animated figure.

“What people very often wind up doing – and what we wound up doing – is we actually shrink the avatar down to very small size and make them invisible and then put prims on top of the avatar that are built onto it,” said Stern. “The most complex avatars are actually almost entirely prims – they’re avatars that are tiny and invisible, and you attach things to their body.”

Stern was inspired by Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ work “Untitled (Perfect Lovers),” a minimalist piece that featured two clocks together, slowly winding down to their deaths – it was inspired by news of Gonzales-Torres’ partner’s diagnosis of being HIV-positive.

“Part of the beauty and the devastation, once you find out what these clocks are pointing to, is that they are precisely not anthropomorphized until you know, and then there’s that shift and that visceral wrenching on your stomach,” Stern said. “Once the decision was made to use this medium, then the depth and the layers aren’t going to be the same as they are with ‘Given Time.’ It’s not going to be this amazing shift once you hear this story but rather much softer layers that you slowly dig out to feel it. Hopefully, because of their enveloping experience, that can become more visceral. Rather than seeing two clocks on the wall, you actually enter between two projections.”

Stern’s work with Meuninck-Ganger involves a variation on the practice of monoprints that includes video screens. There are two different types of work in this body. In both, Stern and Meuninck-Ganger created video animations to display in digital photo frames. The variations are that, in one, the team painted directly on the video screen, while in the other, Meuninck-Ganger utilized her skills as a printmaker to create a translucent paper work that is permanently attached to the video screen.

“I had already figured out the technology of which screens were going to work when she started working on the technology of the papers,” Stern said, “but in terms of each work, we usually worked on the video and on the drawing at the same time. Sometimes we would just shoot a video and it would be cool. Sometimes we’d have an idea and would sketch it out, but because of the way things had to line up and decisions about the size of the screens and the size of the plates, everything had to be worked on simultaneously.”

Stern and Meuninck-Ganger use the same video for an ongoing series of their monovids. What distinguishes the works is a different drawing on each, done with Sharpie paint markers right on the video screen.

“The particular video that we’ve been using for this monovid is one I took over the Atlantic Ocean, where you can see the railing of the boat cutting across the screen and then rolling waves behind it,” Stern said. “We’ll sometimes put sea serpents in the water or boats in the water or little fish bowls in the water or swans in the water, and we’ll just draw those right on the screen.”

The other side of the work involves backgrounds for the images on the frames. Stern has used Second Life for this, as well, and this has helped him realize that old technologies are still technologies: It is not out of the question for the old and new to find common ground in order to fabricate an entirely fresh form of art built on varying stages of technology. More importantly to Stern, digital progression does not rule out the more physical arts.

“A lot of people talk to me as if I’m this super tech geek – I am, but just because computers are thought of as a technology, people forget that ink and paper, that kind of stuff, is a technology, too,” he said. “Yes, I sometimes speak over Jessica’s head, but she sometimes speaks over mine. I have no idea what she is doing in that back room.”

It’s in this nexus of the two ends of art technology that a warmth has been created – digital technology has been brought into the human senses and is related as such, emotionally. It’s a huge leap forward in not only the presentation of creativity, but also the harnessing of it – and Stern points out that it’s not unattainable to those from outside its realm; it just takes an effort to use it as a material in an artist’s creative arsenal.

“That’s where our technology is coming now – you can feel it,” Stern said. “It used to be that you couldn’t just feel technology; you had to know how it worked in order to make something interesting; whereas we have this new generation growing up with technology. You can feel what’s working or not. And some people just have to work harder.”

Nathaniel Stern can be found online at

Caption: Stern’s Second Life avatars, Ross and Felix, in their digital environment.

(c) 2010 North Adams Transcript. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Media NewsGroup, Inc. by NewsBank, Inc.
Record Number: 14475092

Mail & Guardian

Passing Between: Mail and Guardian reviewProfundity and plasticity for the greedy
This article by Chris Roper appeared in both the online and print editions of the Mail & Guardian. Also see their online video feature.

“Jessica, a trained and practiced printmaker, had a growing interest in new media, time and space, and Nathaniel continued to investigate composite work that lives between the digital and traditional.”

Good grief. Is this a homage to that fateful first meeting of Princess Leia and R2D2? No, it is the opening paragraph to the catalogue for Passing Between, the collaborative show by Jessica Meuninck-Ganger and Nathaniel Stern now playing at the Art on Paper gallery.

Time and space, you say? To the Batcave! Ah, artspeak. You can get tired of it, although it is useful when you’re in the mood to poke fun. But, sadly, there is no other way of doing justice to works that demand critical respect. And despite the disturbing image I’ve just conjured, of Stern as a chirping, egg-shaped robot, he and his collaborator earn our respect with this show.

The work is funny, pretty and accessible, but it’s also complicated, surprising, exceedingly well crafted and rewards a long-term relationship. That’s your cue to rush out and buy a piece, take it home and plug it in.

I’d better take a stab at describing the pieces in the gallery, although it would be easier all round if you checked out the video of the work on Basically, it’s a new-media mash-up. Paraphrasing the artists’ own description: they mount translucent prints and drawings on top of video screens, creating moving pictures on paper.

That doesn’t do justice to, for example, the mesmerising, joyful experience of watching insubstantial sharks endlessly circling The Gallerist. He’s depicted kneeling on some driftwood in the middle of the ocean while sketchy vultures hover ominously. And there’s a perfect beauty to The Great Oak, the central image of which is a drawing of a sturdy tree, already complicated by the digital echo of itself, counterpointed by ghostly figures leaping at its base.

The players are ordinary digital photo frames, LCD screens, PC monitors. If it wasn’t for the old-media interventions of the artists, you could call this Apple art—designed in the United States, made in China. And that’s not an insulting description. Stern has a history of online interventions that flatten out easy categories of valuing art and that make evaluating this show’s output a much more interesting proposition.

Last year he and collaborator Scott Kildall put up a page on Wikipedia called Wikipedia Art, a self-referential artwork, editable by anyone, that achieved its legitimacy by the publication of articles about itself on other websites. A clever interrogation of Wikipedia’s standards and what constitutes archival know-ledge, it resulted in a running battle with Wikipedia editors and a legal challenge on trademark infringement. According to Wikipedia (ha), this saga eventually became an artwork and was included in 2009’s Venice Biennale.

So when you wander around the show at the misnamed Art on Paper, or if you’re lucky enough to have one of these works on your wall, you can choose. Do you just want to enjoy the playful nature of a piece such as Twin City—whoah! Here comes the flying cow again!—or do you want to meditate on the nature of the loop, which “without origin or telos … interweaves the work’s time with the spectator’s as rhythm rather than succession”?

I know, you’re a 21st-century art lover, so you want it all—profundity and plasticity, facile conversation piece and deep worth. Greedy. But with this work, you can have it all and, in true hypertextual style, leap from moment to moment, constantly recreating desire and satisfaction, in much the same way as the looped video constantly re-enacts the pleasure of watching.

Passing Between shows at Art on Paper, 44 Stanley Avenue, Milpark, Johannesburg, until February 27

read the entire article online
see the print edition

Passing Between

Passing Between catalogue, Nathaniel Stern + Jessica Meuninck-Ganger

Exhibition Catalogue and DVD

Title: Passing Between / Nathaniel Stern and Jessica Meuninck-Ganger
Essay: Nicole Ridgway
Design: Jeff Ganger and Jesse Egan
Documentary Videos: Sean Kafer
Music: Michael Szpakowski
Publisher: Gallery AOP
Date of Publication: 2010
Language: English
ISBN: 978-0-620-45908-2
Download as PDF (4 mb)
Available from Gallery AOP, Johannesburg

Videos on the included DVD

This 6 and a half minute video features the artists discussing their work together in their studios in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It was shot and edited in late 2009 by Sean Kafer, with an original musical score by Michael Szpakowski.

Download this video (mp4, 77mb)

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This 4 and a half minute video features documentation of all 14 works on the Passing Between exhibition at Gallery AOP, Johannesburg South Africa. It was shot and edited in late 2009 by Sean Kafer, with an original musical score by Michael Szpakowski.

Download this video (mp4, 50mb)

Play Video
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lithograph, LCD with video
10 x 14 x 2 inches, 2009
Jessica Meuninck-Ganger and Nathaniel Stern

Download this video (mp4, 14mb)

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etching, sugarlift, LCD with video + machinima
11 x 14 inches, 2009
Jessica Meuninck-Ganger and Nathaniel Stern

Download this video (mp4, 18mb)

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photo etching, LCD with video
11 x 14 inches, 2009
Jessica Meuninck-Ganger and Nathaniel Stern

Download this vide0 (mp4, 22mb)

Play Video
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This 2 minute video briefly features all 14 works by Nathaniel Stern and Jessica Meuninck-Ganger, for the Passing Between exhibition at Gallery AOP Johannesburg. It was shot and edited in late 2009 by Sean Kafer, with an original musical score by Michael Szpakowski.

Download this video (mp4, 21.5mb)

Play Video
Click To Play