My Son the Professional Baseball Player for the Petah Tikva Pioneers

An Art Exhibition Proposal for Yeshiva University Museum   

Artists: Mel Alexenberg and Michael Bielicky

Artists Mel Alexenberg and Michael Bielicky will create artworks using innovative digital-age technologies to bring to museum visitors the exciting opening season of the Israel Baseball League (IBL) through the story of Mel’s son Ari, southpaw pitcher for the Petah Tikva Pioneers.  Not Mel’s son the doctor, but Mel’s son the professional baseball player, not in the United States where Ari lives, but in Israel where Ari’s parents and siblings live.

What better metaphor for the Jewish condition than to have the most loved American sport transported to Israel.  This art exhibition will not only appeal to the large audience of American Jews who love baseball as well as to those who are art lovers, but all baseballs fans who will cheer for players in the opening season of IBL who are from Israel, United States, Dominican Republic, Australia, Canada, Japan, Ukraine, Venezuela, and Belgium.     

Ari, who couldn’t play Little League baseball growing up in the States because games were on Shabbat, at 45 began his professional career on the mound in Israel.  His team’s manager was the famous Jewish Major League pitcher, Ken Holtzman, whose picture on a baseball card Ari has treasured since his childhood days in Teaneck.  Presiding over the opening game will be IBL Commissioner, Dan Kurtzer, former US Ambassador to Israel.

On his blog,, Ari explores the irony of realizing his American dream of becoming a professional baseball player in Petah Tikva, of all places, where his parents live.  In her paper on art in Jewish life, “Between Exile and Irony: Modernism, Postmodernism, and Jewish Thought,” Ruth Weisberg, dean of the art school at University of Southern California, sets the theoretical stage for Ari’s amazing encounter with exile and irony and its complex twists.

The Artworks

Avatar Players

Visitors will be drawn into participating in a virtual baseball game being played at the home field of the Petah Tikva Pioneers. Body-motion sensors in the museum will track a visitors’ movement and body shapes and transform them into avatars (virtual images of the visitors).  The visitors watch their avatars as diaphanous bodies moving within a video projection covering an entire wall.   Visitors can move in the museum space to simulate actions of players or fans through their avatars.     

Stats InfoOrganism

Every baseball fan wants to know the statistics of the players and the teams.  These stats will be transformed into dynamic visualizations projected on a fog screen.  The continually changing image of the stats of the first IBL season will form an information visualization that appears like a living organism pulsating in an ethereal vapor.  

Digital visualization of information, a rapidly developing area of computer science, will be used for creating an infoesthetic artwork that reveals mathematical patterns of the entire season’s baseball games.  The statistical data will be transformed by a dedicated software program into a spiraling visual image in which players and teams are represented by forms and colors in flux.  It will be projected on a screen of fog suspending in the middle of the room.  This virtual organism will present an infoesthetic portrait of baseball in Israel during the summer of 2007, in the Hebrew calendar 5767.          

Falling Stars

High contrast portraits of the stars of the Israel Baseball League interspersed with symbolic icons from the realms of baseball and Israel will be projected in the museum as well as on the outer façade of the museum building during the nighttime hours.  Visitors to the exhibition and strollers passing by on the street will see these images cascading down the wall.  

Digital Collages

Digital collages will be created that combine action photographs documenting Ari’s Petah Tikva Pioneers playing the Bet Shemesh Blue Sox, Modi’in Miracle, Netanya Tigers, Ra’anana Express, and Tel Aviv Lightning, with more intimate images photographed by Ari himself of his interactions with his teammates and fans. 

These images from ball field and dugout will be integrated as Ari, the baseball player, interacts with his active 100 year-old Dutch grandmother whose parents were murdered in Auschwitz, with his brother, Ron, a rabbi teaching biology and Torah at a yeshiva high school for environmental studies in the Negev mountains, with his first cousins, Chabad and Belzer Hasidim with long peyot, with his bearded knitted kippa-wearing uncle on his motorcycle, with his sister’s husband who makes shoes for the Israeli and Chinese armies, and with his nephew, a career officer in the Israel Defense Forces.  Ari will have to go across the road from the Petah Tikva Pioneers ballpark to a wedding hall to dance at his youngest brother Moshe’s wedding to Carmit, a chemistry student whose parents are from Iran.

These dynamic and multifaceted images will be organized in the digital collages in aesthetic forms appropriated from baseball cards, Talmud pages, comic strips, and film storyboards merged with minimal texts in Hebrew and the other languages of the players.  In addition to playing baseball, Ari is a hi-tech artist who will collaborate with his father on creating the digital collages.

The Artists

Mel Alexenberg is an artist who creates artworks at the interface between art, science, technology, and culture. His artworks explore interrelationships between digital age art and Jewish consciousness, space-time systems and electronic technologies, participatory art and community values, high tech and high touch experiences, and responsive art in cyberspace and real space. Millions throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia have seen his environmental sculptures, multi-media installations, telecommunications art events, and exhibitions of paintings and prints reflecting digital technologies and global systems.  The leading American art magazine, ARTnews, praised the LightsOROT exhibition that he created with Otto Peine at MIT for Yeshiva University Museum in New York by writing: “Rarely is an exhibition as visually engaging and intellectually challenging.” 

His artworks are in the collections of more than forty museums worldwide, including: Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art in New York, Baltimore Museum of Art, Portland Museum of Art in Oregon, Cincinnati Museum of Art, Denver Museum of Art, Phoenix Art Museum, San Antonio Museum of Art, Hunt Museum of Art in Atlanta, Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., Malmo Museum in Sweden, Museum Moderner Kunst in Vienna, Haags Gemeentemuseum in The Hague, Jewish Museum in Prague, National Gallery of Art in Melbourne, Victoria and Albert Museum in London, Museo de Art Contemporaneo in Caracas, Museum de Arts Plasticas in Montevideo, Haifa Museum of Art, and Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

Alexenberg is Head pf the School of the Arts at Emuna College in Jerusalem, Professor Emeritus at the Ariel University Center of Samaria, and formerly on the faculties of Bar-Ilan University, Tel Aviv University, and Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design.   In the United States, he served as Professor and Chairman of Fine Arts at Pratt Institute, Associate Professor of Art and Education at Columbia University, Research Fellow at MIT’s Center for Advanced Visual Studies, and Dean of Visual Arts at New World School of the Arts, University of Florida’s arts school in Miami. 

He is author of numerous papers and books including The Future of Art in a Digital Age: From Hellenistic to Hebraic Consciousness and Educating Artists for the Future: Learning at the Intersection of Art, Science, Technology, and Culture (Intellect Books/University of Chicago Press) and Aesthetic Experience in Creative Process (Bar-Ilan University Press).  He co-authored “Aesthetics in Judaism” with Rabbi Dr. Alter Ben-Zion Metzger in Wellsprings, “Light, Vision and Art in Judaism” with Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm, Chancellor of Yeshiva University, in the catalog for LightsOROT, and “Educating a Jewish Artist” with Rabbi Dr. Moshe Dror in the Hebrew journal Bisdeh Hemed.   He is Editor of Educating Artists in a Digital Age: Learning at the Intersections of Art, Science, Technology, and Culture being published in UK by Intellect Books, in USA University of Chicago Press. 

Born in New York, Alexenberg earned degrees at Queens College, Yeshiva University, and New York University (interdisciplinary doctorate in art, science, and psychology). He lives with his wife, artist Miriam Benjamin, in Petah Tikva, Israel.

Michael Bielicky is one of Europe’s most prominent new media artists who has participated in numerous international exhibitions, festivals and projects that experiment with navigation, video-communication, and virtual reality technologies. His innovative artworks shown worldwide include: Sao Paulo Biennale in Brazil, Seoul Biennale in South Korea, Infermental 7 in Tokyo, Fundacio Joan Miro in Barcelona, Ars Electronica in Linz, Anthology Film Archives in New York, Musee National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, Museum for Contemporary Art in Warsaw, Kunstmuseum in Düsseldorf, ZKM Museum fur Neue Kunst in Karlsruhe, to the Gallery for Contemporary Arts in Milan.  He has also been honored with solo exhibitions in Paris, Amsterdam, Bucharest, Berlin, and Prague.   

His Jewish consciousness informs many of his artworks from the video sculpture, Menorah, permanently installed at the Jewish Museum in Berlin to his telematic installation, This Year in Jerusalem, at the Robert Guttmann Gallery of the Jewish Museum in Prague in 2005.  In his Prague exhibition, infra-red rays reflected from museum visitors transform their bodies in three-dimensional computer-generated avatars that travel to the Western Wall (Kotel) in Jeruaslem in real time in a virtual space. Exodus was his virtual tele-performance in the Negev desert using a portable GPS (Global Positioning System) that sent images to Ars Electronica in Linz, Austria, via the Internet.  His four days wandering in the desert where a new human consciousness was born through liberation from slavery and acceptance of the Torah creates a metaphor for reshaping contemporary consciousness through digital liberation from time and space and emigration into the virtual net.

Bielicky is Professor and Head of the Department of InfoArt/Digital Media, Hochschule fur Gestaltung / ZKM Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe, Germany, and former Head of the School of Media Arts at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague.  He has been advisor in culture and technology to the Soros Center for Contemporary Art, the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, and Chiang Mai University in Thailand where he is involved in establishing a new Media Arts Department.  He is a member of the International Advisory Board of the new School of Art and Multimedia Design at Netanya College in Israel.

Born in Prague, he emigrated with his parents to Düsseldorf after the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1969.  After studying medicine at Heinrich Heine University in Germany, he traveled across the United States and experimented with photography in New York while working as a horse-cab driver in Central Park.   He returned to Germany in 1980’s worked as a photographer for the magazine Monocrom and enrolled in the State Academy of Fine Arts in Düsseldorf where he was a master-class student of video-art pioneer Nam June Paik.  After graduating from the art academy, he served as assistant to Nam June Paik, worked as an artist at the High Tech Center in Potsdam, developed the prototype of a 360o interactive virtual environment at the ZKM Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe, and organized a symposium and created a documentary film on media theoretician Vilem Flusser.  In 1991, he returned to his birthplace to establish the School of New Media at the art academy there.