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A local artist’s take on the role of social media and technology in today’s society will be on display starting at the end of this week.

Benjamin Cook, 24, will open his show Amusing Myself: New Works by Benjamin Cook, at the Swanson Contemporary Gallery on Feb. 20. An opening reception will be on Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m. The show ends March 29.

Cook’s solo exhibition draws from the landscape of the digital age, according to a press release.

“It’s about finding a balance between the digital and physical world,” Cook said. “I don’t think we realize the unknown side effects that occur from the digital world.”

Using source images from websites such as Facebook, Google and Wikipedia, he reproduces screen shots in detailed drawings and works in gold leaf. Cook said the process of creating these pieces helps him document his surroundings, as well as slow himself down to process the consequences of the Internet.

“The inflammation of Internet changes and there’s never a time to settle on a topic,” he said. “For this concept, I picked topics of political relevance that need to be looked at for more than a glance.”

Cook chose Pussy Riot, the Russian punk rock band and political protesters, as a subject.

“I’m trying to pick things above the sensationalist news story,” he said. “You need to stop and really think about issues such as this.”

Cook began working on pieces about six months ago without an exact concept in place, he said. “My works are depictions of the world around me at a given moment.”

He added that inspiration for the exhibit came from the book Amusing Ourselves to Death, by Neil Postman, which depicts the corrosive effects of television on politics and public discourse.

“I want people to really think about the technology they use and how it affects them in both positive and negative ways.”

Cook, who has his BFA from the University of Louisville, said this is his first solo show. “It’s exciting and I think I picked the right gallery,” he said. “I’ve always been impressed by their gallery shows and I think it’s great to have my show there too.”


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Scribbling words and sipping Bulleit.

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