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Sundance Film Festival mashup of digital technology and art

Published January 25, 2012 4:17 pm

New Frontier exhibit • Eye-popping cinematic mural of human history just one example of 10 intriguing digital artworks.
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Park City • One of the least-known, but most fascinating, parts of the Sundance Film Festival is the New Frontier visual art exhibition that pushes the boundaries of digital technology in hopes of inspiring further exploration.

This year, 10 works are on view in Park City and at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art in Salt Lake City. The artworks range from an eye-popping cinematic mural of human history to an interactive documentary that explores the implications of tracking wildlife with satellites and digital surveillance to "Radical Games Against the Tyranny of Entertainment," which, among other things, offers a McDonald's video game in which players learn the art of branding and lead animals to slaughter.

Marco Brambilla's "Evolution (Megaplex)" is a huge 3-D projection mural of world conflict. It includes clips from countless blockbuster films, including "Dirty Harry," "King Kong" and "Clockwork Orange." The work is reminiscent of the traveling dioramas that once dazzled 19th-century audiences. While it's technically breathtaking, "Evolution" is also hilarious.

"Bear 71," by Jeremy Mendes and Leanne Allison, involves video clips from surveillance cameras and maps following the short and tragic life of a grizzly bear that was electronically tagged by Banff National Park rangers. Like many of the New Frontier works, "Bear 71" erases boundaries between viewers and art, allowing smartphone users to interact with Bear 71's environment.

" 'Bear 71' is a powerful and touching piece," says Adam Price, executive director of UMOCA, in a description of a wildlife-tagging program you don't hear every day.

It's the second year of cooperation between the UMOCA and Sundance to bring the New Frontier exhibit to Salt Lake City, where it will remain on display though May. New Frontier is an extraordinary opportunity to expose Utahns to the extreme edge of digital contemporary art, Price says.

"It showcases some of the best contemporary artists in the world," Price says, but "part of our challenge is getting people to come and see it in the first place."

gwarchol@sltrib.com; facebook.com/nowsaltlake —

Bloody edge of Sundance

New Frontier exhibit explores the digital boundaries of art.

Where • Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, 20 S. West Temple, Salt Lake City, through May 19. Free.

Where • The Yard at Sundance, 1251 Kearns Blvd., Park City, through Jan. 27.

Information • http://www.utahmoca.org