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Messages & Mediums

October 1, 2021 - November 13, 2021

Messages & Mediums brings together two artists who explore the intersection of Spiritualism and technology through their artwork. Shannon Taggart has been working with and photographing Spiritualist mediums since 2001. Her new series of images, taken over Skype, Zoom, and FaceTime during the pandemic, builds on the long history of spirit photography and technological exploration of the otherworldly. Mediums believe that spirit communication cannot be bound by time and space and Taggart’s new work advances this concept, using a computer screen and a camera to memorialize recent digital séances. Matthew Ostrowski’s installation Summerland looks back at the archaeology of communication, mixing 19th-century hardware and 21st-century software to initiate a conversation between the medium Kate Fox, the youngest of the Fox Sisters, and inventor of the telegraph Samuel F. B. Morse. Channeling the voices of these two contemporaries through long-extinct media, the artist evokes the magical lurking in our omnipresent technologies, the ghost in the machine.

Opening Reception: October 1, 6-9pm *After party at The Spirit Room (of course)
Virtual Artist Talk: October 23 at 1pm.
Register for the talk here:

Messages & Mediums is accompanied by a new text by Rochester-based historian, photographer, and librarian Gerry Szymanski.

This exhibition is the first in a new occasional series that considers the intersection of religion, faith, and art. Rochester’s history of religious groups, technological innovation, and progressive social movements gives us a unique vantage point to consider and support artists who engage with these subjects.

Top:Skype transfiguration of a spirit said to be Franz Liszt, with Medium Isabelle Duchene in trance, 2020 by Shannon Taggart
Bottom: Detail of Summerland by Matthew Ostrowski

About the Artists

Shannon Taggart is an artist based in St. Paul, MN, who explores the intersection between Spiritualism and photography. Her work has been exhibited and featured internationally, including within the publications TIME, New York Times Magazine, Discover, and Newsweek. Her work has been recognized by Nikon, Magnum Photos and the Inge Morath Foundation, American Photography and the Alexia Foundation for World Peace. Taggart’s monograph, SÉANCE (Fulgur Press, 2019), was listed as one of TIME’s ‘Best Photobooks of 2019.’ | IG: @seance_book

A New York City native, Matthew Ostrowski has worked as a composer, performer and installation artist, exploring work with music, multimedia, video and theater. Using digital tools and formalist techniques to engage with quotidian materials -- sonic, physical, and cultural – Ostrowski's work explores the liminal space between the virtual and phenomenological worlds. His work, which has been seen on six continents, ranges from live electronic performance to installations incorporating video, multichannel sound, and computer-controlled objects. He is a freelance developer of interactive technology for artists, and teaches at NYU and Trinity College in Hartford.