Emily Joy Zeller: Permutations


Viewing our exhibits is free because of the generosity of Horicon Bank.

August 12, 2021 – September 25, 2021 all-day
Art opening reception: August 12 – You’ll have the chance to meet the artist and learn about her work and ask questions. Art opening from 6 – 8 pm.

Exhibition will be on display from August 12, 2021 –  September 25, 2021

An artistic experimenter and educator from Ohio, Emily Joy Zeller is interested in new technologies and the near-future. She is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Studio Art and the Studio Arts Technology Specialist at Kenyon College, where she teaches classes in web media, photography, digital imaging, and creative coding. She also oversees digital fabrication within the department, and makes all of the technology behave. Her work has been exhibited at the Ohio Arts Council’s Riffe Gallery in Columbus, Jepson Center for the Arts in Savannah, Georgia, and as part of The Wrong Biennale in Valencia, Spain. Her artistic pursuits range from photography to microcontrollers, joining digital and analog, and exploring the uncanny valley. Zeller received her MFA in Imaging Arts from Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York.

“In Permutations I explore and exploit the ability of a Generative Adversarial Network (GAN) to become something of a virtual scientist. The network is trained on archetypal photographs of specific objects to learn how they’re supposed to look, and then I use it to create images with calculated amounts of many different objects. The results meld together to form something that doesn’t exist, but at first glance seems like it could in a near-future environment. Aspects within the image may be familiar, but still inherently alien to what we interpret as a “real” space or object. From a distance the images may evoke deep-sea creatures, plant life, and insects, but up close they become painterly and abstract. Characteristics of the source images may or may not be readily apparent, depending on the number of “genes” in the piece, and the ratio between them. The GAN and I collaborate, determining what of the physical world can be joined, and how those hybrids might appear based on what it’s learned. Through this, I play with the idea of what makes us interpret photographic representations as authentic, mixing the real and the fantastic.” Emily Joy Zeller

For more information about the artist click HERE!


Notes from Shannon Kupfer, THELMA’s Curator

Emily Joy Zeller’s prints utilize a unique artform that appears to exist between the realms of SciFi and SciArt. Zeller creates other-worldly amalgamations of objects using a Generative Adversarial Network (GAN). GAN is essentially a computer network that is trained to learn the photographs that Zeller feeds it, and it melds them together into something that does not exist yet is eerily believable. She curates the objects that go into the GAN, creating an interesting partnership between artist and computer. Zeller also includes animated videos of some of her creations that truly bring the experience to another level. You can watch the forms morph, move, and change before your eyes. The videos are reminiscent of time-lapses of biological processes like cellular mitosis under a microscope or a caterpillar becoming a pupa and emerging as a butterfly. The artwork in “Permutations” is intriguing, bizarre, and disturbs the definition of what is real.



Galleries are free to view:
Monday: 10 – 5 pm
Tuesday: 10 – 5 pm
Wednesday: 10 – 5 pm
Thursday: 10 – 7 pm
Friday: 10 – 5 pm
Open Saturdays 11 – 3 pm
Closed on Sundays.