Alan Rath

October 2020

Our dear friend and collection artist Alan Rath passed away on October 27th in Oakland, CA. Anyone who met the San Francisco & Oakland-based artist quickly saw that he had a deep humility and light sense of humor; he expressed both of those beautifully in his pioneering electronic works. Alan had a playful wonder for life and the world and was a joy to know and spend time with. We recently re-exhibited Alan’s works at the winery and we are glad that he knew this. Alan is deeply missed but, as with his art, our memory of him and having known him will continue to brighten and delight.
– Museum Director Robert Ceballos and Hess Proprietor Timothy Persson

Born 1959, Cincinatti, Ohio
– October 2020

Clock

1990

(wall)

Aluminum, electronics and CRT monitors

Run Man Run II

2003

(large ‘jar’)

Running Man V

2003

(small ‘jar’)

Each acrylic, electronics & Delrin*

The artist designed both so that the running animations will change over the years and run on the Gregorian Calendar.  Daily, the runners will change color or move in a different direction or speed. Each holds various surprises according to the season and anniversaries special to Rath.  For example, Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man appears on the 15th of April, da Vinci’s birthday, and the iconic image of Buzz Aldrin standing on the moon with the earth behind him in half shadow appears on July 20th. A walking skeleton appears in the smaller jar on the thirteenth of each month. Flowers will emerge on the screen of the larger work starting in spring and appear with increasing frequency as the summer progresses.

* Delrin is an inflexible polymer produced by DuPont and often referred to as a metal substitute or synthetic stone. It is easilly turned and shaped with a lathe and the cilindrical black parts on the tops and bottoms of the jars are turned Delrin.

Huge Pi 500

1996

Aluminum, acrylic sheet & L.E.D.’s

Rath studied electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and he designs and builds these objects to run on programs that he writes. Humor and irony are often intrinsic to his work as he references the human tendency to anthropomorphize machines; a ‘running’ or ‘thinking’ computer, or hands appearing as creatures inside a laboratory cage communicating with one another by gesture. This display runs through 500 digits of Pi (3.14…) and repeats these digits in perpetuity at different speeds. Rath notes that, through history, the calculation of Pi parallels both industrial advancement and the spread of humanism.

 

Opposable Thumbs

(Mythus Teknologikus)

1986

 Stainless steel cage, custom electronics, cathode ray tubes

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