New Media: Vol. 1

Redux Contemporary Art Center

On view through Jan. 6

Fifth Anniversary Art Auction

Nov. 30, 6-10 p.m.

$50 non-members (includes a year’s membership), $25 members

Charleston Art Institute

24 N. Market St.

(843) 722-0697

www.reduxstudios.org

Redux’s latest show is like nothing else in town.

It’s a departure from the typical, art-on-the-wall exhibition. It presents work by young Southeastern artists from institutions like Georgia Tech, the University of Florida, and Yale University School of Art. The art encompasses videos and digital prints ­— not necessarily the kind of work collectors will snatch up to display in their living rooms.

Hell, who’s got room for a talking ATM in their pad?

New Media is ambitious in other ways, too. It’s part of an experiment in cross-fertilization between the nonprofit Redux Contemporary Art Center and the College of Charleston, which held a conference on New Media Arts and visual/computational thinking at the Physicians Auditorium last weekend. The partnership certainly helps validate the out-there art of Redux, a young upstart of a gallery that celebrates its fifth birthday on Nov. 30.

Five years for any nonprofit is a true milestone. It’s a particularly significant one for Redux, which was founded by a couple of CofC Studio Art students in order to meet demand for a progressive art in the heart of Charleston. Seth Curcio, executive director of Redux, believes the “raw, young energy” of founders Bob Snead and Seth Gadsden, and their successors, has helped to sustain the center.

“But it’s been intelligently maintained, too,” Curcio says. “We serve a singular niche. We’re an open-door hub for artists who have inspired our longevity.”

Many artists who’ve rented space at Redux are contributing to this year’s annual contemporary art auction, which has been tied in with the anniversary. It will raise money to launch a new batch of programs for 2008: public exhibitions, artists-in-residence, lectures, film screenings, and outreach programs.

The auction will take place at the recently refurbished Charleston Art Institute, above the Noisy Oyster restaurant. Like Redux, it’s a place that stretches the notion of what art means. Programs cover the culinary arts as well as web design and interactive media, interior design, and commercial photography.

An off-location event will enable Redux to pack more people in and continue its mission to link with other organizations in the community. Moreover, it’s good to see two potential competitors working together. Although the classes they run are very different (the Art Institute has degree-level programs), they each target a young customer base, and the Art Auction is a good way for each organization to access the other’s.

Redux will need plenty of space just for the art — over 50 artists are contributing, including Snead and Gadsden, hyper-realist Robert Lange, DIY art proponent Tattfoo Tan, the multi-discipline Jonathan Brilliant, and more traditional artists, like Mclean Stith and Sandy Logan. The work of Lange, Stith, and Logan is familiar to French Quarter viewers, and they’ll help bridge the small but notable gap between the hip college crowd and more conventionally minded art enthusiasts.

This isn’t the first time Redux has ventured beyond St. Philip Street, though. 2006’s benign Invasion exhibition drew new artists and collectors to the Mary Martin Gallery on Broad Street. It won’t be the last, either. A “Redux Day” parade is planned for the future, along with other visible, socially relevant events.

“With the public behind you, you have a much better chance of continuing,” Curcio says. “We want to be activating the community. As we continue to grow and get more ambitious with bigger events and crazier things, we’re steering what we’re doing so that it’s community driven and more socially minded.”

A good example of this is the free component to Redux’s programs and events, promoting inclusion and shunning old fashioned art world elitism.

“We’re lowering the hierarchy of an art institution,” says Curcio, referring to Redux’s status as a contemporary gallery. “We’re democratic but still maintain a high standard.”

Submissions for their national calls for entries have grown over the past few years, but there’s no intention to stem the onrush by making the center an invitation only space.

“We want to be more open than that.”

Since Redux’s continued existence isn’t dependent on selling the work it shows, it’s able to display video art, interactive installations, and other work that challenges the notion of what art should be. By encouraging participation from its renters and the local community, it’s become stronger than ever.