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IRL: Confronting the Digital-Self

A panel discussion with Kris Pierce, Martin Back, and Dr. Megan Morrissey

Thursday, May 2 at 7 PM


Please join us for a panel discussion supplemental to the current exhibition, Kris Pierce: Boiling a Ship in the Sea. The discussion, IRL: Confronting the Digital-Self, includes exhibiting artist Kris Pierce, artist and professor Martin Back, and assistant professor of rhetoric Dr. Megan Morrissey.


The conversation will explore the dominance and impact of social media and the digital world, as well as themes relevant to Kris Pierce’s work. As individuals invest more social capital in their digital-self, the dynamic between virtual and physical space becomes a more complicated relationship to navigate. Pierce is interested in individual relationships with digital space and how the lines between characters in both the physical and the digital world are often blurred.


In Boiling a Ship in the Sea, conflicting identities are navigated by a character whose sense of place feels alienated by the complicated dynamics of existing within a digital world. It is within the “video game” context that ideas relating to violence, war, social dynamics, family, and loneliness struggle to resolve. The initial context of the video exists within the “FPS” or “First-Person Shooter” genre of games, this format bridges the real-world experience to the game environment. This device defines a new characteristic of 21st-century human experience, where virtual experiences parlay their baggage onto our physical self and shape how we navigate the future.


About the panelists…

Kris Pierce is an artist working in Dallas, Texas. His work explores notions of power, value, and states of consciousness in the context of our modern digital world. He has exhibited internationally in museums, galleries, and public spaces, including recent solo and group exhibitions at the Hiroshima Art Center, Japan; CICA Museum, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea; Gallerie Se Konst, Falun, Sweden; Réunion, Zurich, Switzerland; Circuit 12 Contemporary, Dallas; Blue Star Contemporary, San Antonio; the Dallas Museum of Art; and RL Window, Ryan/Lee, New York City.


Martin Back is a sound artist, performer, video artist and educator. His work currently examines 2nd Order Cybernetics as the foundation for generative art and music, text and language as the ground for sonic composition and video performance as a vehicle for working through ideas which stem from spiritual philosophy. His work has been shown, auditioned and performed in festivals, gallery spaces and on radio in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Estonia. From 2002-2007 he was assistant to pioneering media theorist Gene Youngblood and to Steina and Woody Vasulka, who were among the first generation of artists working with video. He holds a B.A. in Moving Image Arts from the College of Santa Fe and an M.F.A. in Studio Art from the College of Visual Arts and Design at the University of North Texas where he is currently a Senior Lecturer of New Media Art. He lives and works in Denton, TX.


Dr. Megan Morrissey received her Ph.D. from the University of Colorado Boulder (2013) and has been working as an assistant professor of rhetoric in the University of North Texas Communication Studies Department since the fall of that same year.  Her research centers questions of marginality, belonging and social justice, and stems from her consideration of the ways that language constitutes, challenges, and reinforces the cultural conditions that inscribe people’s lives.  Working from the premise that race, gender, sexuality, and citizenship are social constructions, she investigates how such categories are composed in the interest of some, and at the expense of others. Her recent work explores how art circulates in the public sphere and how it can function as a form of public protest and/or social advocacy.

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