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The Ringling premieres first survey of Toni Dove's interactive performance and installation work
The exhibition will explore more than 20 years of the artist’s projects.

SARASOTA, FLA.- The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art will debut Toni Dove: Embodied Machines, the first survey of Dove’s pioneering work, which operates at the crossroads of live performance, interactive narrative and virtual reality. The exhibition will explore more than 20 years of the artist’s projects, from early installations through her interactive cinema and stage performances and concluding with her most recent experiments at the forefront of digital technology and robotics.

Based in New York City, Dove has been credited as one of the innovators of interactive cinema. Since the early 1990s, she has been interested in creating immersive experiences where the boundary between viewer and performer is blurred and the history of consumer culture and capitalism is examined. Dove's collaborative practice brings together vanguard visual artists, filmmakers, fashion designers, robotics engineers, computer programmers, musicians, actors and writers. Dove, acting as the creative architect of experience, transforms the traditional artist studio system into a 21st-century idea incubator, using the work of art to inform technology.

The exhibition is curated by Matthew McLendon, formerly of The Ringling and now director of the Fralin Musuem of Art at the University of Virginia. It will be on view at The Ringling February 25 through May 20, 2018.

Debuting with the exhibition is The Dress That Eats Souls (2017). The cinematic work consists of a sculptural installation in the form of a massive robotic dress brought to life. The dress combines robotics and projection scrims that respond to a viewer’s body movement, taking them on a voyage over 10 decades. They see through the eyes of those who have worn the dress as each visitor’s unique narrative experience unfolds based on the movement of their own body. No two stories are precisely the same.

Among the other major works in the exhibition will be Artificial Changelings (1998), a time travel installation in which a kleptomaniac in 19th-century Paris dreams of a 21st-century hacker; Spectropia (2001), a sci-fi film noir that involves a machine that creates virtual realities and the search for a lost inheritance and Lucid Possession (2013), a musical thriller that unfolds with live music and robotic projection screens, from the point of view of a programmer, her avatar and their real and virtual community of fans.

The exhibition will be complemented by three live performances by the artist on March 9, April 13 and April 14, 2018.

“As one of the most innovative and fascinating artists working today, Toni Dove consistently upends expectations, pushing into uncharted territories of technology, theater and installation art,” said Steven High, Executive Director of The Ringling. “This significant consideration of her career to date underscores The Ringling’s ongoing commitment to presenting and supporting contemporary art and performance through our Art of Our Time initiative.”

Dove has received numerous grants and awards, including recognition from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Greenwall Foundation, the Langlois Foundation, New York State Council on the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, The LEF Foundation, media The foundation inc. and the Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 2014/15, Dove was the Hirshon Artist/Director in residence at the New School for Social Research in Media Studies.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a publication of the same title, with contributions by a number of leading scholars in the fields of digital media, film and music, including Erkki Huhtamo, George Lewis, Christiane Paul, Debra Bricker Balken and Rene Steinke.

Toni Dove: Embodied Machines and its affiliated programs and events are part of The Ringling’s Art of Our Time initiative, which was launched six years ago to revitalize a program of contemporary art that began in the 1940s under the leadership of A. Everett “Chick” Austin Jr., The Ringling’s first director. The Ringling’s reimagined dialogue with contemporary art is one based on experimentation and collaboration, in which visual art, new media, installation, group projects and performance can be nurtured, commissioned and presented in partnership without boundaries or departmental silos. This path-breaking programming, combined with extensive community outreach, has allowed The Ringling to play a vital role in developing an emerging international network of living artists whose work transcends traditional practices.

The Ringling has built its modern and contemporary collection over the years by acquiring key works of art from its dynamic slate of special exhibitions and through significant recent gifts to the collection by generous donors.

Four galleries in the Museum of Art’s Ulla R. and Arthur F. Searing Wing were recently permanently reassigned to showcase rotating selections from The Ringling’s modern and contemporary collection. In November 2016, The Ringling opened The Keith D. and Linda L. Monda Gallery of Contemporary Art in the west wing of the Museum of Art, a flexible space particularly suited to video, new media, installation, contemporary photography, performance and project-based work.

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