Byron Rich adds digital elements to science-based exhibition - The Buffalo News

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Byron Rich adds digital elements to science-based exhibition

If you’ve been having a hard time telling the difference lately between art and science, don’t blame yourself. Western New York’s galleries, museums and even waterways, for that matter, are increasingly playing host to projects that combine aspects of science, art and activism in ways designed to blur boundaries and invent new hybrid categories of creative expression.

Byron Rich, a graduate of the University at Buffalo’s MFA program now working in Meadville, Pa., has been at this game for years. His work is the focus of a new exhibition opening Sunday in the Castellani Art Museum of Niagara University.

The show, called “Protista Imperialis v2.1,” features many interactive digital elements, including a live feed of Instagram photos that carry the hashtag “#climatechange” and a functioning bioreactor that actively grows algae in the gallery as long as visitors are present.

In a release, Castellani curator Michael Beam wrote that the show is designed to make viewers contemplate the effects of digital technology on the planet. “The aim of ‘Protista Imperialis v2.1’ is to have those who see it question their sense of scale, time, and the profound interconnectivity between the constituents of physical reality and the digital world,” Beam wrote.

The exhibition opens with a reception at 2 p.m. Sunday and runs through Feb. 8. Call 286-8200 or visit

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