Rex Bruce is the founder and director of the Los Angeles Center for Digital Art. He took some time earlier this year to share some insight with NY Arts about the vitality of the L.A. art scene.
I was introduced to computer technology from an early age: my father was a programmer in the late ’60’s. He would bring me parts from giant computers to play with and gave me Radio Shack kits to build electronic gizmos. I also have a background in music and was introduced by composers I was studying under programming computers to control voltages going to analog synthesizers. Decades of electronic art, film, video, performance and music utilizing digital media followed, surfing the wave of emergent technologies as they came out. This led to a leadership position amongst peers in this particular genre and organizing exhibits and performances. I have been curating and showing in the art and technology scene since the 1980’s.
I had done so much organizing and exhibiting in the media art scene in commercial, non-profit, guerrilla and academic environments that it made sense to start my own gallery space to continue on that mission in a more focused and structured kind of way. We have had three locations and each time we have become much larger. 2014 will mark the ten-year anniversary for L.A. Center for Digital Art.
My focus in digital art, new media, or art and technology (as it is described variously) cuts a very wide swath in terms of the kinds of works that are out there. I try to represent the best of everything, be it academic or not, sellable or not. My interests are not that commercial, that part is an experiment in this genre at this point, really. I do support community exhibits by non-professionals as well, this is an important aspect of what we do at LACDA. I try to stay open to many types of people making efforts they are very invested in and create opportunities to support their work. Some are very famous professionals, some are high level academics holding important university posts. Others are simply people who are driven to create and devote much of their lives to it.
The look and feel of L.A. often informs the work we show here; the wide open sky, the pop mid-century sensibility of the architecture, suburban banality, the movie industry and so on. You get images of gas stations, cars, hollywood stuff, big skies and vast panoramas. Lots of media art, too. There is a big video and new media scene here.
There is a “lowbrow” scene here that is enormous. This pop surreal art is where hot rod, surfer and latino low-rider sensibilities collided to form a genre that has matured over many decades into an extremely viable style. This popular “Juxtapose” scene is very L.A. and has been found to be very viable commercially.You can find a huge number of viable commercial galleries on the West Side of L.A., but that scene is completely dwarfed in comparison to New York. Los Angeles is less expensive all around, so you find more DIY situations and non-profits often thrive here. There are almost 400,000 visual artists living here, and our art scene is very diverse and thriving. The artists here are not so on top of each other and don’t copy each other as much, I believe. New York generates more fads, and also more enormous dramatic installations, big flashy stuff. Speaking in the most general way, the work in L.A. is more individual and studio oriented.
The energy in Los Angeles is gargantuan. This is a project city and nothing else but that. If you find yourself doing something that people in the various creative communities like you get picked up in this incredibly dynamic energy that draws you upward with opportunity and collaborations. I have found this kind of support here in countless ways, my work here thrives and will continue to do so, of that I am certain.