Misbits, a new media art space located on University Avenue in The Edison, hosted its first opening reception for artist Mark Ramos at 5 p.m. Tuesday and introduced his piece “Motherboard” to a large audience of Oxonians and out-of-towners alike as part of the Oxford Fiber Arts Festival and Pop Up Oxford.
Misbits was recently opened by local artist Valerie Guinn Polgar and serves as her personal studio space, as well as a virtual space and gallery space for local artists and new media artists. Polgar also uses Misbits as a class space for community members to learn more about new media art.
Polgar’s purpose for Misbits is to serve as a space for community members to view new media art and offer classes to interested members in the community.
Polgar first became interested in art as soon as a computer was in her house.
“I started drawing using the paint application,” she said. “I was lucky because at my high school, there was a good art department. I took a Photoshop class pretty early on.”
She later went on to the School of Visual Arts in New York City and studied computer art. She went to art school and worked in print and post production doing video editing, but since moving here a year and a half ago, she has turned her attention to teaching at the university and showcasing new media art for the Oxford community through Misbits.
“It’s something that I started out as an outlet to promote art that’s created through technology and collaboration. My idea is to bring new media artists here and host them,” she said. “I want to include local artists from all disciplines.”
The first artist to show his work at Misbits, Mark Ramos, had a successful opening reception Tuesday night, and Polgar has many more events planned for the next four months. Misbits will host several artists whose exhibits line up with Oxford Art Crawl, and Polgar will host her own open studio. In April, a video artist from Hawaii will visit the art space.
“I’m going to actively seek out other artists to come and hope to host four or five a year. I would even be interested in doing some type of collaborative event with other writers, programmers and artists,” she said. “Our event went really well last night. I noticed some people were scared to walk up to the piece, but they’re encouraged to play around with it because it is interactive.”
Ramos, a Los Angeles native but current New York City resident, created the “Motherboard” piece and happily accepted the opportunity to present his piece at Misbits.
“I like to say my work uses technology to make things visible and audible — things that are usually hidden away,” he said. “I use technology as an intermediary to expose the intangible.”
His piece is a quilt, stitched with electrically conductive thread that responds to movement by changing the image projected on the Misbits wall in terms of opacity, speed and color. The circuit board patches send signals to a program that generates a virtual quilt. It “addresses the traditional craft of quilting as new media art. Motherboard digitally archives and re-contextualizes memories.” The piece will be running from Jan. 24 to Feb. 21.
Though Polgar is starting out small, she is hoping to expand soon.
“I want to get a feel of the kind of things the community is interested in,” Polgar said. “When I moved here, I noticed a vibrant art scene, but not the type of art that I am most drawn to, so I wanted to bring that here. There seems to be a lot of talent here in Oxford.”