If you peer in the window of the Hood Downtown gallery in Hanover you will see a darkened room illuminated by the light from 50 globes, of all colors and patterns.
They’re the work of Ingo Gunther, a German-born, New York-based artist, whose exhibition, titled “World Processor,” continues a string of innovative contemporary art shows at the Hood Museum’s temporary gallery on Hanover’s Main Street.
Gunther has devised an ingenious way to get across the kind of vital but dusty data that usually show up in position papers or reports as dry recitation with equally dry graphics to match.
What if you were able to analyze global migration patterns, compare the GDPs of different countries, and look at the locations of free economic zones or manmade borders by seeing them on a globe?
And what if you were able to then compare one globe, with one set of data, to another globe next to it with another set of related data? The mind grasps complex information and makes intellectual connections very differently when it can take things in as three-dimensional forms.
That’s a long way of saying that Gunther’s “World Processor” globes are satisfying aesthetically and intellectually. They are visually arresting, and they make you think about how we consume and process information. More to the point, Gunther is able to take what seems like the most arcane data, and make it tangible and comprehensible.
Take one globe with a network of lines. Each line sprouts from an odd location and ends in an equally odd location. When you read the label you realize that you are looking at the trajectories of nuclear missiles from their points of origin in the countries that are nuclear powers, to their intended targets.
Another globe, by comparison, shows the locations of the international monitoring system facilities of the nuclear-test-ban treaty. One can ponder the relationship between the international structures put in place to monitor the testing of nuclear weapons, and the flight paths that missiles would take if all the human systems that have been devised to keep that from happening were to fail.
The Gunther exhibition, and the related show “Mining Big Data: Amy Balkin and Luis Delgado-Qualtrough” in the Strauss Gallery in the Hopkins Center, were curated by Juliette Banco, the Hood Museum’s deputy director and Katherine Hart, the museum’s senior curator of collections.
The two women saw the work of all three artists last spring at the 2016 FotoFest in Houston, Texas, a biennial exhibition that is one of the leading international festivals for photo-based art.
They didn’t go to FotoFest with the idea of curating a show about Big Data, but that theme emerged as they looked at the work of Balkin, Delgado-Qualtrough and Gunther, all of whom juxtapose nuggets of text with visual elements.
In a period of endless information, and when the meaning and ownership of facts is being challenged — whose fact is this anyway? — these artists have found ways to visually represent such urgent problems as climate change, famine and war-driven human migration.
Art can help make sense of the onslaught of information coming at us, Bianco said in a recent interview with Gunther and the two curators.
“I think we both have a lot of tolerance for engagement with issue-oriented art,” said Hart.
Gunther studied ethnology and cultural anthropology at Frankfurt University and sculpture and media at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. He made his first globes in the late 1980s, and has made some 1,500 in all: Each globe is dated because over time, of course, information changes, borders can shift, water sources are depleted, climate changes.
He began his career as a journalist but became disillusioned by the changes he saw in the news business.
“There are way too many opinions, and a lack of well-proportioned information,” he said. Still, he draws on standard journalistic sources for the data he uses, including The Economist, the UN Development Report, the World Bank, and, on occasion, the CIA’s World Factbook.
Gunther’s aim is “to present data as clearly as possible,” but also to lure the viewer with his hand-painted, meticulously drawn globes, which isn’t too difficult.
“People like globes,” Gunther said. And when the globes are placed side by side in a space, he’s noticed that people bounce back and forth from one globe to the next, acting as vectors for the data.
“It’s an intellectual, playful thing,” he said. “The idea is, everything is related to everything.”
Hart echoed this, in her own way. “There are multi-valent ways in which art can be interpreted,” she said. “Art isn’t linear. It’s OK to be open-ended. Art raises questions. It opens up different rabbit holes you can go down.”
Gunther was scheduled to give a lecture today at the gallery, but that has been postponed due to illness. Check back with the Hood Museum website, at hoodmuseum.dartmouth.edu, for further information.
“World Processor” runs through May 28.
“Mining Big Data: Luis Delgado-Qualtrough and Amy Balkin” continues in the Strauss Gallery, Hopkins Center, through April 30.
Openings and Receptions
ArtisTree Gallery in South Pomfret marks mud season with its annual celebration of same, with the show “MUD,” opening Friday at the gallery from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Artists spin variations on the theme of mud season. The show goes through May 6.
“Adventures in Weaving,” a show by Braintree, Vt. artist Susan Rockwell, opens Friday at the Tunbridge Public Library; there will be a public reception from 3 to 5 p.m. on Sunday at the library. Rockwell is part of the Vermont Weavers Guild and has taught weaving classes for more than 30 years. The show runs through May 19.
As part of First Friday in White River Junction, Long River Gallery and Gifts, which has closed its location in Lyme and has now moved to White River, is exhibiting Lyme artist Stephanie Reininger’s paintings in the show “Spring’s Flowers and Colors.” Through May 5. The gallery will also offer this Friday a demonstration of Ukrainian egg decorating by Shannon Wallis from 5 to 8 p.m. For more information go to tinyurl.com/firstfridaylongriver.
Two Rivers Printmaking Studio, in the Tip-Top Building in White River Junction, opens “Collaborations,” a set of prints made by Vicky Tomayko and Bert Yarborough, with a reception Friday evening from 6 to 8 p.m.
At Scavenger Gallery in White River Junction, jeweler Stacy Hopkins will host a wine tasting, starting at 5:30 p.m. The work of print maker Lois Beatty and sculptor and wood worker Ria Blaas will also be on view.
The Norwich Public Library presents the show “Odanaksis: Plein Air Paintings,” an exhibition of work by artists Anne Webster Grant, Gail M. Barton, Helen Elder, Susan Rump, Linda Landry, Jo Tate and Becky Cook. (There is a show up by the same group at the Zollikofer Gallery at the Hotel Coolidge.) Odakansis, the Abenaki term for “little village,” describes a group of artists who paint together outdoors at different locations around the Upper Valley. The Norwich Public Library holds a public reception beginning at 5 p.m. Friday. The show continues through May 26.
Arabella, Windsor. The gallery exhibits works by local artists and artisans in a variety of media, including jewelry, oils, acrylics, photography, watercolors, pastels and textiles.
Center for the Arts, New London. The center shows work by Penny Koburger at the New London Inn, and pastels and oils by Gwen Nagel at the Lake Sunapee Bank on Main Street. In celebration of Youth Art Month, work by students from New London Elementary School also is on view at the Whipple Gallery in New London. All three shows end April 29.
Converse Free Library, Lyme. Lyme artist and printer Matt Brown exhibits “Woodblock Prints: Parts and Process” in the Betty Grant Gallery through May 31.
Howe Library, Hanover. Boston artist Tatiana Yanovskaya-Sink, who also spends time in the summer in the Sunapee area, exhibits paintings in the library’s Ledyard Gallery through May 3.
Kilton Library, West Lebanon. A selection of work from Hanover Street School and Mount Lebanon School will be exhibited at the library: Hanover Street students showed their art through Wednesday; Mount Lebanon students’ work will be on view today through May.
Main Street Museum, White River Junction. “Theoretical Clothing and The Shape of Being,” an exhibition of clothing design, photography and sculpture by H. Seano Whitecloud, runs through April 22. On April 22, Whitecloud, along with other designers, will show his clothes as part of WRJ Fashion Weekend at the Engine Room in White River Junction.
Osher at Dartmouth, Hanover. Lyme artist and illustrator Meg McLean exhibits her oil paintings in the show “Still Seeing Green” through April 27. The gallery is at the Osher office at 7 Lebanon Street, Hanover. Office hours are Monday through Thursday, 8:30 to 4:30 p.m., Fridays from 8:30 to 1 p.m.
Philip Read Memorial Library, Plainfield. Prints by Barnard artist Sabra Field are on view through July 1.
Royalton Memorial Library, South Royalton. A show of work by South Royalton School students continues through April 14. There will be a public reception today from 4 to 6 p.m.
SculptureFest, Woodstock. The annual celebration of three-dimensional art generally ends when foliage season does, but 80 percent of the show is still on view. “Grounding,” a show of site-specific work curated by sculptors Jay Mead and Edythe Wright, is on view at the King Farm. For more information, go to sculpturefest.org.
White River Gallery at BALE, South Royalton. “Expansions,” a show of paintings by Jasper Tomkins, is on view through April 30.
Zollikofer Gallery, Hotel Coolidge, White River Junction. “The Spirit of Odanaksis,” an exhibition of work by members of a group Upper Valley plein air painters, is on view through May 10.
Nicola Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.