MIKE MANDEL

 

Over a period of thirty years I have designed both temporary (billboards) and permanent (tile mosaic) artworks specifically for public sites. My work has been primarily focused on public art projects transforming photographic imagery into large scale glass and porcelain tile mosaic murals. In 1974 I received a Masters in Fine Arts from the San Francisco Art Institute, concentrating in Photography. Among my awards are four fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Fulbright fellowship, a MacDowell Colony Fellowship and numerous other grants and awards. My work is represented in museum collections throughout the world and I have published extensively. In 1977 Larry Sultan and I authored Evidence, a photo narrative comprised only of images that we found in government and corporate archives, such as police, fire departments, aerospace and engineering firms. The photographs were originally made as documents of crime scenes, rocket experiments, etc. But by inventing a new sequence within the book format, they come to symbolize an entirely new message about the failure of faith in progress and technology. This book has been recognized as a precursor to subsequent postmodern strategies of photo practice, and was re-published in 2004 by Distributed Art Publishers in New York. My most recent book is a collaborative effort with my wife, Chantal Zakari, entitled The State of Ata, 2010. In 2006 I was invited to participate in the 4th Berlin Biennial for Contemporary Art, “Of Mice and Men,” in Berlin, Germany. In 2009 I participated in Art Basel, Switzerland, and Photo España, Madrid.

In the 1980's when I recognized that photography was becoming transformed into a digital medium I began to work with photographs on the computer. A digitized photograph is comprised of numerous square units of color called "pixels." My interest in public art and specifically in finding a way to translate photographs into a more architectural scale led me to the idea of a mosaic based on electronic imagery. A one inch ceramic or glass tile could be considered a real world analog to the electronic pixel, and thousands of these tiles could add up to beome a wall of photographic imagery. My approach to permanent public art is to tap into the intertwined stories of history, myths, images of land and community. I recognize the documentary power of photography and find strategies to translate this energy into public design.

 

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