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Turning Graph Paper Into Geometric Art: The Unlikely Inspiration Of Alma Alloro

For her first ever solo NYC show we travel to the Transfer Gallery in BK to catch up with the Israeli creator.

Alma Alloro is a new media artist, musician, and animator from Tel Aviv known for creating GIFs based on hand-rendered graph-paper drawings.Combining a contemporary interest in lo-fi tech culture, with an attention to formal abstract constructs and handmade qualities reminiscent of the high-modernist designs of the early Bauhaus, Alloro has been drawing fans internationally to her work. First gaining our attention in 2012 with her graph doodles come to life, the Berlin-based artist will be displaying her first NYC solo show, Apophenia, at Brooklyn's Transfer Gallery this month.


Recently we were able to speak with Alloro at Transfer to discuss the show with her:

The Creators Project: There are a few places in New York primarily showing digital, web-based, or new media art these days. What brought you to Transfer gallery?

Alma Alloro: Transfer Gallery's focus is on the challenge of bringing net art and digital art into the physical space. Many of my new works have a similar or reverse motivation. I am interested in that clash. It has been a year since Transfer opened, during that time they showcased a very interesting spectrum of artists who work in the digital zone and I am very honored to have a show there. Plus, they know how to throw a good party!

For a media artist, a lot of your work is hand-crafted, or depends on materials like obsolete technology. Is it difficult to figure out a balance between these different aspects of your work– like what part of it is distributable, internet based stuff, and what part of it is your actual mark-making on paper?  Is it difficult to be identified as a “new media” artist and then have to negotiate real objects–including finding ways to get them on and off transatlantic flights?

The show is an opportunity to observe the process of making the animation. All the means are exposed, there are no secrets, nothing is hidden. You don't need to be a technological genius to understand the magic. Apophenia is a term used to describe people who see meaningful patterns in random information. That is what’s supposed to happen when looking at the drawings placed along side the projected animation--it all start to make sense.


I may use some contemporary media such as computer screens and scanners, but I'm not at all identified as a "new media artist".  More than anything else I'm an internet friendly artist (and also: craftswoman, cavewoman, undiscovered-yet pop star and heartbroken artist). The internet has been good to me. This is the future, one doesn't need to make stuff on Photoshop to become a legitimized net artist. I like to make things with my hands, this is how I work…I think with my hands. I like limiting myself to a very 'stupid' medium like the pencil. I am also not a big fan of computers, though I do love the internet, and like many other artists, I want my work to be out there.

Today we have everything: we’ve got the warmness and richness of the analog and the optical, and we have the internet and the digital ‑ why not use them all at once and create something truly amazing? After all, every media was once 'new media'.

The Creators Project: The work in this show (particularly Lotekvision) reminded me a lot of Bauhaus constructivist works like László Moholy-Nagy’s "photograms" and early films in which hard angled shapes and spirals are layered semi-transparently over each other. You studied at the Bauhaus University Weimar – were you influenced by the historic Bauhaus during your time there?

Ever since my young adulthood I admired the Bauhaus artists and the legacy of the early avant-garde, which eventually led me to enroll to Bauhaus University. I grew up in Tel Aviv where I was surrounded by the modernist aesthetic, from architecture to educational programs, memorial monuments to record covers of my favorite music. I love László Moholy-Nagy amongst other experimental film pioneers like Hans Richter.

I visited the EYE museum in Amsterdam last year, which featured a retrospective of animation pioneer Oskar Fischinger. The show, in which his animations were displayed along side original frames, was a formative moment for a show about animation, which became this show--Apophnia. I recognize a link between the fascination of early film pioneers and today's enthusiasm toward the internet as a medium, and GIF animation in particular. Sometimes I wonder if I was born 100 years too late.

Looking at the long scrolls that you drew by hand and then assembled into a GIF animation, I thought of ASCII art, the technique of creating images out of printable characters--favored by early computer art hobbyists. The point of ASCII was that it’s easily printable and low-fi–you can quickly transmit images over the most crude low-bandwidth networks. At the same time, the amount of labor that goes into each image is immediately apparent. Each character had to be precisely selected, placed, and typed. The way that you’re showing the transmittable animation alongside the labor-intensive drawings that make them up seems similar. Is that accurate?

Yes, absolutely. In fact, the birth of this style of hand-made drawing on graph-paper was when I made graphics for Goto80 (commodore 64 musician). When I started with the animation I was very influenced by the novelty of the demoscene--a subculture of computer nerds who are using old computers to make creative stuff. I have good experience with making things the long way and the wrong way, which eventually (and hopefully) leads to interesting results.

Alloro’s solo show at Transfer Gallery (1030 Metropolitan Ave., Brooklyn) opens Saturday, January 4 and will be on view until January 25, 2014. You can also download an essay on Alloro's work by Daniel Rourke here.