Current Exhibitions

The Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation presents ongoing seasonal rotations of new acquisitions and installations from its collection of global contemporary and historic digital art.

People on the Fly
By Christa Sommerer & Laurent Mignonneau

Laurent Mignonneau and Christa Sommerer, People on the Fly, 2016, interactive digital animation with camera, custom software, computer, and projector
Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau’s 2016 digital artwork People on the Fly makes its U.S. debut at Art House in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In this interactive installation, People on the Fly attracts a virtual swarm of houseflies to a visitor’s captured image using the artists’ custom swarming algorithm. With this algorithm, only bodies in motion will invite the flies.

Insect swarms provide artificial-intelligence researchers with models for understanding how lifeforms make decisions on a particle level, as a swarm thinks cooperatively, without a dominant leader. In this way, a swarm communicates through networked intelligence, a theory called emergence. Software algorithms designed to simulate biological systems can learn from swarm behavior, producing digital data that, in turn, may implicate genetics, social order, and creativity.

Pioneering digital artists Christa Sommerer (born in Ohlsdorf/Gmunden, Austria, 1967; lives in Linz, Austria) and Laurent Mignonneau (born in Angouleme, France 1964; lives in Linz, Austria) are renowned for their custom coded interactive artworks. Since 1992 they have collaborated on artworks that have helped shape the field of digital art, especially at the intersection of biology and technology.


Eye Contact: Portraits in the Global Age
On view until July, 2019

Robert Wilson, Lady Gaga: Mademoiselle Caroline Riviere, 2013, high-definition video on plasma monitor

Eye Contact: Portraits in the Global Age brings together works from the Thoma Foundation’s diverse collections of Spanish Colonial painting and Digital Art for the first time. Eye Contact considers portraiture as a sociological art in which the notion of personhood is subjected to the vicissitudes of globalism. While portraits are commissioned and created to commemorate individual identity, they are repositories—at times unwittingly—of the sociopolitical forces around them: world trade, colonialism, or advances in technology. The three artworks on view span more than two centuries, from 1776 to 2015, and include Robert Wilson’s video portrait of Lady Gaga in the guise of early 19th century French aristocrat Caroline Riviere, styled in accordance with the famous painting of Riviere by Jean Auguste Dominque Ingres; Andrés Solano’s Portrait of Ana Josepha de Castañeda y de la Requere from 1776; and Daniel Rozin’s Selfish Gene Mirror, in which viewers temporarily become the subject via a small camera and Rozin’s customized “Darwinian” algorithm.


Digital Artifacts
On view until November, 2019

Michal Rovner, Dahui, 2004, steel vitrine, glass, stone, DVD

The thematic installation Digital Artifacts brings together the work of five internationally renowned artists to consider contemporary digital culture in a wholly new way—from the perspective of future archaeologists uncovering its remnants. Featuring works by artists Michal Rovner, Casey Reas, Guillermo Galindo, Josh Tonsfeldt, and Sabrina Gschwandtner, Digital Artifacts emphasizes the material aspects of technology in a field that increasingly prioritizes simulated experiences in immaterial spaces, as in online communities or multiplayer video games.


“Particle Field” by Leo Villareal
On view until February, 2020

Leo Villareal, Particle Field (Triptych), 2017, digital animation

This artwork is in a constant state of creation. Leo Villareal programmed Particle Field to generate a live, ever-changing composition. Its custom code is vital to the artwork’s identity and experience.

Villareal invokes with his triptych the sacred power of Renaissance altarpieces and the expressive energy of 20th century Color Field painters and performers. The artist said of his digital abstraction, “I wanted to make something that feels like it has existed for a long time using a very contemporary use of technology.”

Villareal produces the world’s largest outdoor light installations in which LEDs are treated as networked pixels across steel bridges and riverbanks. For his monitor-based artworks, Villareal makes use of the latest advance in display technology, the OLED screen, capable of individual cell illumination and the deepest black levels yet invented. Villareal’s algorithm pushes gigabytes of data across 24 million combined pixels in a choreography of orderly chaos.


Red Ladder (Backstage) by Iván Navarro
On view until 2021

Iván Navarro, Red Ladder (Backstage), 2005, fluorescent light, color sleeves, metal fixtures, electric energy

Navarro grew up in Chile under the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet (1973–1989). He reflects, “I never traveled outside Chile during that period. We lived with the feeling of fear every day because it was a violent situation… The power went down every other day around nine o’clock at night until five the next morning in order to keep people in their houses and under control… The everyday reality was getting ready for the night—food, candles, water. Because when the power went out, the water went off. We knew every other night was going to be like that.”Navarro relocated to New York in 1997 where he has consistently used electronic light as an expressive and inspiring material, such as Red Ladder, which evokes a fictional portal for escape to an alternate reality.


Art House location & Hours

Wednesday – Saturday, 10am-5pm
231 Delgado St.
Santa Fe, NM 87501