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Meet Jody Zellen

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jody Zellen.

Jody, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I have been a practicing artist for more than thirty years. My earliest work used traditional photography to frame aspects of the observable world with a camera and transform “reality” into black and white images.

Since 1997, I have embraced digital media, focusing on the ways everyday forms of technology (like the internet) can be used as platforms for the presentation of my artworks. Ghost City (www.ghostcity.com) was my first net art project. Since then, I have created more than ten discreet net art projects, many with a unique URL.

Something that thrilled me about making art for the web was that it could exist outside a gallery space: I saw it as a new form of public art, easily accessible to all. This realization coincided with my first physical public art project. I continue to be drawn to create works outside more traditional art viewing settings and to date have been awarded seven public art commissions. In March,  I will open a temporary interactive installation that visualizes unemployment in Terminal 6 Departures (Alaska Airlines) at Los Angeles International Airport.

Another outgrowth of my net art practice was an investigation into how a user’s experience on the screen could be translated into physical space. I go back and forth between making installations and works for the screen or mobile phone.

I launched my first iOS app, Spine Sonnet in 2011. One of my many goals was to infiltrate the space of the mobile phone by making artworks designed specifically for iOS devices, creating something one could look at and interact with anytime, anywhere: in public as well as private spaces. I currently have seven app art projects, all available for free in the iTunes store. (www.jodyzellen.com/apps)

Currently, I am experimenting with augmented reality, adding animated content that can be seen via mobile devices when viewing my photographs and drawings.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I support my artistic practice by working in the arts. Currently, I do graphic and web design and write art reviews, but it is a continual struggle to make ends meet. When I have a full-time job, I do not have enough time to do my artwork, but working freelance means I am always looking for that next thing. It has not been easy to find a good balance.

We’d love to hear more about what you do.
I am quite proud of my permanent public artworks and my net and app art projects. At present, my public artworks can be seen on Ocean Park Boulevard in Santa Monica where I created a trio of tree-shaped bike racks.

Attached to the façade of Crenshaw-Imperial Branch Library are eleven stainless steel silhouettes derived from the shape of historically significant buildings in the area. I also have photo-based tiles at the Emergency entrance of the UCLA Santa Monica Hospital and at the Pan Pacific Recreation Center.

My iOS apps are available to anyone with an iPhone or iPad. They are free to download from the App Store. I am one of a handful of artists who has explored the mobile phone as a platform for interactive artworks. My app art works include Spine Sonnet, 4 Square, Art Swipe, Episodic, Time Jitters, and News Wheel.

In 2013, my partner Brian C. Moss and I created What’s on Los Angeles (www.whatsonlosangeles.com) a mobile formatted exhibition listing site that is also a free iOS app. What’s on Los Angeles is a comprehensive, up-to-date and easy to use exhibition listings that are updated on a weekly basis.

It is the go-to place for openings, closings, special events and information about over 300 galleries and institutions in the greater Los Angeles area. I had hoped What’s on Los Angeles would take off as a money generating business, but that did not happen, so now we maintain it as a labor of love and as a service to the community.

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