Wednesday February 12, 2020
Tags for: The Cleveland Museum of Art Presents Signal Noise: Aaron Rothman
  • Press Release

The Cleveland Museum of Art Presents Signal Noise: Aaron Rothman

exterior of the CMA building

Exhibition opens at Transformer Station February 14 with a free reception with the artist

Cleveland (February 12, 2020) — Featuring 35 photographic works, Signal Noise: Aaron Rothman surveys 10 years of Aaron Rothman’s photographic studies of the landscape of the American West. Through analog and digital photography and digital processing and printing, he transmutes unpretentious fragments of nature into sensuous, sublimely beautiful images that hover between two-and three-dimensional space and vacillate between representation and abstraction. The exhibition is organized by the Cleveland Museum of Art and opens at Transformer Station on Friday, February 14, with a free reception with the artist from 7 to 9 p.m. 

“Rothman’s interest lies in transformative rather than documentary photography,” said William Griswold, director of the Cleveland Museum of Art. “Through digital hardware and software, Rothman creates views of the American West that question whether there can be a single perfect view that conveys an objective truth. Instead, his works suggest that there are gaps between the world and how we perceive it and, especially in our digital age, between the natural and the artificial.”

Each artwork in Signal Noise began as a straightforward photograph; a few remain unaltered. Most, however, have been digitally manipulated using one of four processes. Values of light and dark are reversed in shots of the sky, rendering it darker at the horizon instead of lighter. In some landscapes, multiple views of a single scene, sometimes taken years apart, are layered to evoke a gentle dissonance of time and space. Shadowed areas in close-ups of plants and rocks are digitally replaced with lush, decorative colors. And in images of the Milky Way, Rothman generates a pointillist universe by letting sensor noise—an inescapable trait of digital cameras that photographers typically try to minimize—dominate the information being recorded, known as the signal.

“Rothman’s gorgeous images offer a breath of desert warmth and vivid color in the midst of a gray Midwestern winter,” said Barbara Tannenbaum, chair of prints, drawings and photographs, and curator of photography. “His use of technology is fascinating and challenging, but most importantly, he employs it to inspire us to consider universal issues about humans’ relationship to the landscape. Rothman feels that his work serves ‘as a metaphor for the state of the natural world—a reflection of anxiety for a warming planet.’”

Please view the press kit for more information and a selection of visual highlights.

Transformer Station is located at 1460 W. 29th St., Cleveland, OH 44113.

Complementary Programming

Opening Reception 
Friday, February 14, 7 to 9 p.m.
6 p.m. entry for members

Enjoy complimentary refreshments, meet the artist and be among the first to see Signal Noise.

In Conversation: Aaron Rothman and Barbara Tannenbaum 
Saturday, February 15, 1 p.m. 
Transformer Station

Rothman and Tannenbaum discuss his artistic process and the works on view in the exhibition. Free; ticket required.

Gallery Talk: Signal Noise 
Thursday, April 2, 6 p.m., and Saturday, May 2, 1 p.m. 
Transformer Station 

Join Andrew Cappetta, manager of exhibition and collection programs, for a conversation about Rothman’s work in the context of Signal Noise. Free; ticket required.

Contact the Museum's Media Relations Team:
(216) 707-2261