Community activist: Elissa Jane Mastel looks through the submissions to the "Digital DUMBO" digital art festival at Mastel + Mastel gallery on Washington Street.
The Brooklyn Papers / Greg Mango

An art gallery and an interactive media studio have joined
together to create a celebration of digital culture and art in

In the process of assembling the artwork that comprises "Digital
DUMBO: A Three Day Festival Showcasing the Digital Arts,"
co-organizer Elissa Jane Mastel of Mastel + Mastel gallery on
Washington Street said the neighborhood responded with overwhelming

"Four Eyes Productions and myself started off with a little
idea in the spring: to do a digital arts festival, a moving image
festival and have a launch party for FourEyes.TV, a new Web site,"
explained Mastel.

"People started responding quickly, and it mushroomed. Silicon
Gallery joined, and one after the other, more came on board,
building momentum, and now it’s much bigger than we anticipated."

Now the festival has grown to eight DUMBO venues beyond Suite
700 at 70 Washington St., where Mastel + Mastel is located.

Other sites either hosting events or displaying artwork are Gale
Gates et. al. (37 Main St.), Brooklyn Front and Superfine (126
Front St.), Smack Mellon gallery (62 Water St.), Silicon Gallery
(10 Jay St.), DUMBO General Store (111 Front St.), SKIZUM Studios
(135 Plymouth St., 2nd floor) and Howard Schickler Gallery (45
Main St.). The festival is intended to bolster the idea that
DUMBO is a nucleus of artistic and digital culture.

"Digital DUMBO" kicks off on Sept. 6 with the launch
party for FourEyes.TV.

"FourEyes.TV gives my company the opportunity to work with
experimental Flash animation," said Sara Schwittek, CEO
of Four Eyes Productions. "It’s an offshoot from FourEyes.com.
FourEyes.TV is an experimental site. We do a lot of entertainment-based
Web sites, and on this site, our artist-employees can learn and
experiment with new tools before they work with clients."

The FourEyes.TV party, 6­10 pm at Mastel + Mastel, is free
and open to the public, as are all of the seminars, shows and
screenings of "Digital DUMBO."

Throughout the festival, Mastel promises, viewers will see art
inspired by technology and art derived from the latest technology.
There will be digital art shows, moving image screenings, sculptures,
demonstrations, presentations and discussions at the various
venues. Interested people are invited to go down to the Mastel
gallery and download the schedule and maps onto their Palm Pilots.
(There are also paper versions of the schedules for the technology-challenged.)

"We’ve been in DUMBO for two years now, and it means a lot
to us to be a part of such a unique community filled with creative
energy. Hosting this event gives us the opportunity to work with
many of the established and emerging talents here," said
Schwittek, whose company designed the "Digital DUMBO"
and Brooklyn Arts Council Web sites.

The scope of the artwork on display in the various galleries
is staggering.

The sheer volume of submissions prompted Mastel + Mastel to take
over other spaces in 70 Washington St. for its "Digital
DUMBO" show, said Mastel. "We’re calling them Mastel
gallery annexes," she said.

"Pieces have been sent to us from all over the country.
There are installations that rely on people’s movements to react
to it. One piece, Nino Rodriguez’s ’Cleaving,’ needs its own
12 feet of space, so we had to come up with ways to accommodate
that." Mastel explained that the viewer enters the room,
violates the space and "reality and projection collapse."

"Another piece is more interactive: these two transparent
suits called ’Front,’ have little fans inside. When one person
yells at another they blow up, they turn into monsters."
Mastel explained that this piece, created by Millefiore Effect,
has microphones embedded in the suits, which are networked together.

"Inflation and deflation are triggered by the volume of
the suit-inhabitants’ voices. A computer monitors the sound levels
from the microphones. When the sound exceeds a certain volume,
serial communication is sent to a micro controller, which activates
the fans," she said.

The caliber of artwork submitted to the show ranges from "stuff
from kids in school to Lewis Baldwin, whose ’MilkMilkLemonade.net’
showed at Whitney’s ’BitStreams.’ We tried to keep the parameters
as wide open as possible," said Mastel.

"My husband, Randall Mastel, is usually the

she said. This time, she is in the curator seat, and chose her
husband’s work to be included in her "Digital DUMBO"
show, which Mastel says she’s been dreaming of for 10 years.
"[Randall] did a series of paintings using motherboards
as inspiration with his [recurring] twins images on top. This
work is a play on biotechnology and genetics."

In addition to exposing viewers to a wide range of digitally
produced or technology-inspired art, "Digital DUMBO"
promises to expose visitors to the wide range of companies operating
in DUMBO, like SKIZUM and its innovative artists collective,
and Gale Gates, a gallery that hosts art shows as well as theatrical

"We’re really into being into Brooklyn and in DUMBO, and
this is a labor of love," said Mastel. "The way the
neighborhood has grasped this and jumped on board – it means
so much to us. It just proves to me that this community really
is a community."


"Digital DUMBO: A Three Day Festival
Showcasing Digital Arts" takes place Sept. 6-9 at various
DUMBO venues. Bring your Palm OS handheld device and get the
wireless program for "Digital DUMBO" at the Mastel
+ Mastel Gallery (70 Washington St., Suite 700). Paper maps and
programs are also available. Open daily from noon to 6 pm. For
more information about the exhibits and seminars at the other
galleries, call (646) 452-1300 or visit www.digitalbrooklyn.com.

For more information about Four Eyes Productions (45 Main St.,
Studio 404), call (718) 254-9557. All "Digital DUMBO"
events are free.

More from Around New York