Margaret Penney (born 1973, Beirut, Lebanon) is an artist, designer, and writer. She crafts a variety of media, ranging from digital collages, algorithmic painting, interactive animation, text and visual narrative, online installations, type or surface design.
Her creative process centers around an iterative evolution that has a very distilled quiddity at the end. The result is a visual story diverging between a collage or precise design. Her themes often fluctuate between psychological and technological with an interest in the interaction between people and technology.
She frequently focuses on a narrative or telling a mosaic of stories. The focus of the stories, like a photograph, alters and even blurs depending on the moment and angle of perception. The result can be abstract or meditative. It is similar to flirting with the point at which thought and images merge. Waking and feeling that blurry pause when the reality is momentarily flexible is the ideal metaphor for her style.
Margaret Penney lives and works in Saint Petersburg Florida. Her work has been exhibited at The Institute of Contemporary Arts (London), Museo Tamayo (Mexico), and the Morean Art Center (Saint Petersburg); at festivals and events in Barcelona, London, Los Angeles, New York City and Hong Kong; and online as part of art collective Hell/No-Such and at the New Digital Art Biennale. Her design and artwork have been featured at the Pantone Canvas Gallery, Trend Bible, Mix Mag, Dazed Digital, High Like, Brand New, Behance, Tumblr, Yahoo France, La Reforma, XLR8R, Fact Magazine and Creative Bloq.
Margaret Penney grew up overseas and graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a B.A. in 1995 and Columbia University in 1997 with an M.F.A..
She was an early adopter of the Internet and excited by the communication and creative potential of the new medium. Upon graduating school in 1997, she bought her first media PC and set out to create a new type of art project for the world wide web. A “Net Art” site that was a visual and textual narrative and blended photo, illustration, animation, writing, code and sound.
Margaret was a multipotentialite with a background in mixed media collage and graphic design along with writing, so an Internet-based multimedia project seemed an ideal mode of expression.
Margaret’s primary focus with her net art project was the exploration and development of a kind of multimedia poetry.
What was compelling about hypertext as a medium was the ability to create narrative connections through links and one could also link pictures to text to sound making the causality of the story, the narrative chain, at once more tenuous and also somehow more expressive. With hypertext narrative, one could bring in so much more at once and really jam the wires, so to speak. As a post MTV youth this style of mixed media, over-saturated, chaotic, collagiste style of expression, of messaging, was appealing.
Her net art projects included Dream7, a cyber-utopic virtual and multimedia dream space where the project DreamBase is also housed, a searchable and categorized interactive multimedia experience of 4000+ dreams sent by visitors to the site from the years 1999-2006. Dream7 mixed poetry, music, animation, interaction and graphics to create a liminal multi-sensory dream-like art experience online. At Dream7, she worked with electronic artists Duodecimo, Paul Stone and Rupert Cogan.
Other projects included ILUVU.TV, home of the TV Oracle, where visitors can receive readings based on wisdom from television shows plus a real personality profile based on TV character archetypes; and DiaryU, a fiction experiment in believable doppelganging, where she authored six live journal accounts whose characters interact with one another in life-like personal dramas. She is an originator of what is now called the Net Art ‘New Aesthetic’ and continues to explore what is possible for media-based art practices.
Post net art, she moved towards motion-based video and short animation projects. She was a VJ for electronic musician Genre Baptiste at performing arts spaces and exhibited animations at the Morean Art Center in Saint Petersburg. Her music videos for Unknown to the Unknown were featured online at magazines like Fact, XLR8R and MixMag and shown at international performance venues.
In 2011, she started a series of digital collage that mixed 3D objects, photo, illustration and typography. She also created algorithmic paintings at this time using code and her own art elements.
As she grew older, she changed direction in her creative practice. She aspired to make simpler and more refined work structured through a disciplined approach, so she developed a primarily aesthetic practice through the creation of surface designs.
Through the development of patterns and textures, she gained newfound interest in the role of the craftsperson in culture. The craftsperson is devoted, meticulous in their work and often humble. These characteristics she cultivated in herself so to gain a better understanding of how to make quality art and design work.
With the textures and patterns, she also aimed to imbue some of them with more depth of meaning, beyond the surface, through visual concepts related to the environment, technology, pop culture and identity.
In 2014, she developed Hello Mart, an online arts gallery and store for artists from around the world presenting fresh perspectives in the arts. Artists accepted to Hello Mart can showcase and sell their work at no cost. Margaret enjoys helping other artists gain exposure for their work and also fostering a virtual arts community based on common interest. At Hello Mart she also presents her own patterns and textures as well.