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Biography
Dennis Summers initially studied Chemistry and Fine Art as an undergraduate. He took a gap year working in a research lab (obtaining co-author credit on three virology articles), before moving on to study in The Ohio State University's New Genres program, (one of the few at that time) where he received his MFA in 1985. In the years since, he has exhibited internationally in a wide range of genres and media - and much of his artwork has been inspired by ideas from science, especially physics and ecology. His first fifteen years was largely spent creating multi-media installations throughout the US and Canada. In these environments participants would find themselves in seemingly ritualistic spaces consisting of objects referencing science and technology. Summers would on occasion perform as a "techno-shaman" within these spaces. For example, in 1995 he was included in the “Interventions” exhibit at the Detroit Institute of Arts, where he created large scale sculptural elements along with a museum-wide performance art event every Sunday for two months. During these years he also produced smaller commercial gallery appropriate works, including several artist books. Intrigued by computer generated images and programming, in 1996 he received a Michigan Creative Artist Grant to create an interactive cd-rom called Crosslinked Genome or Data Fugue, which he considered to be a kind of artist book. It was included in an early internationally traveling show of digital art called Contact Zones: The Art of CD-ROM

The creative success of Crosslinked Genome led Summers to explore other uses of digital technology in art, specifically 3D animation. In 1999 Summers animated Marcel Duchamp's The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even, bringing him attention from the small world of Duchamp scholars, and winning several awards. He followed that with two more short animated CG videos. Subsequently, much of his artwork has consisted of computer generated imagery and interactive projects. His artist books, videos, and interactive digital projects are in the collections of several major museums including the MOMA, the Pompidou Center, and the International Dada Archive. For information on these early installations and videos can be found at Quantum Dance Works. The digital print at the opening page of that website perhaps best illustrates the mashup of science, technology, ritual and computer generated imagery that interested him during these years.
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His global memorial artwork The Crying Post Project, was begun in 2001 at the Mildura Palimpsest #4 Art and Science Symposium in Australia, where he was also a featured speaker. This artwork consists of multimedia markers placed at sites of environmental disasters throughout the world, including the site of the Exxon Valdez sinking, Bhopal, India, and most recently Flint, Michigan. Summers has long been influenced by the way that indigenous Australian people relate to the world, and their belief that non-human physical reality is created by their "performance" within their environment. In addition (and not unrelated), as an artist, Summers believed that he must react to the damage caused by humans to the natural environment, and other closely associated destructive events. This memorial consists of a network of painted wood staffs placed around the world. Each staff rises above ground about 9 feet, and at the top is a solar powered "cry" generator. This small device is controlled by a computer chip and emits a tone of randomly varying lengths. In addition to the posts, the project includes a series of digital prints, an interactive 3D website, and an interactive Flash website (sadly, due to changes in web protocol, while available, both of these are now difficult to access. If you have access to a browser running Flash, go here).

In contrast to this somewhat conceptual project, in 2005 Summers began creating a series of computer generated abstract “color field” videos called The Phase Shift Video Series. These videos have been described as “light works that morph, actualize themselves in time, engage and animate our perceptions in ways for which we’re only marginally prepared.” Always projected or displayed at larger than human scale, they have been exhibited in museums, galleries, outdoor public sites, and non-traditional venues internationally, including an exterior wall of the Detroit Institute of Arts, atop the Kitchener, Ontario City Hall building, and at a Russian airport. One of them was a purchase prize winner in the Spanish Bienal Internacional de Arte Contemporáneo in 2006. About ten years later a change in the technical process led to The Interference Video Series. One of these was commissioned for a huge outdoor screen at the Cobo Center in Detroit.

Much of his artwork has been crafted using collage strategies. Research into this topic helped inform his current series of short, dense, digitally created collaged videos inspired by specific artist and scientist pairings called Slow Light Shadow Matter. These videos explicitly return to Summers' interest in science and mythology. As in jazz where the same songs are regularly played in multiple styles, visual elements here are re-used in each video, but the style of each is very different.
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In 1995 Summers instituted the digital animation program for The College for Creative Studies in Detroit, Michigan, where he taught as an Associate Professor for seven years. He wrote a textbook for animators titled Texturing: Concepts and Techniques, published by Charles River Media in 2004. In addition, he has written a number of articles on his own art and that of others throughout his career, including three articles for the Leonardo Journal. He has also been active in delivering presentations on a range of topics at academic conferences. He is the arts liaison for The Society for Literature, Science and the Arts. At SLSA in 2012 he gave the first of many talks about collage theory, which led to writing a book chapter included in Knowledge Visualization and Visual Literacy in Science Education, published by IGI Global in 2016. In 2021 his article on collage theory and the posthuman was published in The Journal of Posthumanism.
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