Mel Alexenberg
Author of "Through a Bible Lens"

Cyberangels Fly from Israel to Museum in Atlanta

High Museum of Art in Atlanta represents an exemplary digital age response of an art museum whose doors were closed by the coronavirus pandemic.  Other museums participating in Global Tribute to Rembrandt cyberangel events are listed at the end of this blog post. Separate blog posts for each of the 30 museums follow.

Open the website of High Museum of Art and you’ll read that it’s closed: “COVID-19: Our building may be closed, but you can still experience art 24/7. Explore High.org for social connection, virtual events, inspiring images, art activities, and informative videos.” 

It is significant that High Museum of Art has closed its physical space but opened in virtual space. As the coronavirus pandemic has forced us to hide at home away from everyone, the world of smartphones, laptops, and the Internet is inviting us to come out of hiding and connect to anyone.

As an artist who has pioneered in creating art in virtual space, I launched cyberangels from Israel to High Museum of Art and 30 other museums throughout the world as an homage to Rembrandt on the 350th anniversary of his death on October 4th.  These museums have my Rembrandt inspired artworks in their collections. My “Digitized Homage to Rembrandt: Day Angels” lithograph has been in the collection of the High Museum since 1987.

I sent cyberangel on a faxart flight around the globe via AT&T satellites in 1989 on the 320th anniversary of Rembrandt’s death. On the morning of October 4th, it ascended from New York, flew to Amsterdam to Jerusalem to Tokyo to Los Angeles, returning to New York on the same afternoon. When it passed through Tokyo, it was already the morning of October 5th. Cyberangels cannot only fly around the globe, they can fly into tomorrow and back into yesterday.

This Global Tribute to Rembrandt documents cyberangels entering the High Museum and each the 30 other museums with images enriched with texts on the impact of digital culture on art that I developed as professor at Columbia University and research fellow at MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies. The blog post’s title is “High Museum of Art in Atlanta: 6,456 miles from Jerusalem, Israel; 340 miles from JerUSAlem, Georgia; or 0 cybermiles via the Internet Cloud.”

I am reactivating a cyberangel team led by the angel Raphael to return to High Museum when it reopens to herald the grand finale of the coronavirus plague. The angel Raphael works to heal bodies, minds and spirits. “Raphael” is related to the word rophe, the divine healer in biblical Hebrew (Exodus 15: 26), and medical doctor in contemporary Hebrew.

These digitized angels, dormant in museum flat files, awakened to adorn the cover of my book Through a Bible Lens with biblical insights for the new media age. The book’s cover is based upon my artwork in the collection of the Israel Museum that I created in Jerusalem. It shows cyberangels ascending from a NASA satellite image of the Land of Israel as they emerge from a smartphone screen. It illustrates the biblical commentary that the angels in Jacob’s dream go up from the Land of Israel and come down to earth throughout the world. A ladder was standing on the ground, its top reaching up towards heaven as divine angels were going up and down on it.” (Genesis 28: 12) A smartphone has the power to make this vision a reality.

Through a Bible Lens offers biblical insights for the new media age. It was published shortly before the coronavirus pandemic erupted, anticipating the need for spiritual insights for coping with the radical changes in our lives in physical isolation while demonstrating how new media can connect us in virtual space. The book demonstrates to people of all faiths how biblical insights can transform life, in good times and bad, into imaginative ways of seeing spirituality in all that we do.

The cyberangels will herald the end of the COVID-19 pandemic by taking virtual flight to the High Museum of Art and 30 other museums on five continents when they reopen. They will begin their flight from the Israel Museum’s Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem, home of ancient Bible scrolls. People throughout the world will “Awaken and shout for joy” (Isaiah 26: 19) when the curtain comes down at the end of the plague.

Museums with Mel Alexenberg’s “Digitized Homage to Rembrandt” artworks are in their collections:

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York CityMuseum of Modern Art, New York City; Everson Museum of Art, SyracuseNew York; National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, AlabamaHunter Museum of Art, Chattanooga, Tennessee; Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio; Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OhioMeridian Museum of Art, Meridian, Mississippi; University of Kentucky Art Museum, Lexington, Kentucky; New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, Louisiana; Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MissouriMidwest Museum of American Art, Elkhart, IndianaUniversity of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor, Michigan; San Antonio Museum of Art, San Antonio, TexasGreenville Museum of Art, Greenville, North CarolinaUniversity of Wyoming Art Museum, Laramie, Wyoming; Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Halifax, Canada; Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel; Haifa Museum of Art, Haifa, IsraelJewish Museum in PragueCzech RepublicMuseum of Fine Arts, Budapest, HungaryMuseum of Modern Art, Vienna, AustriaMalmo Art Museum, Malmo, SwedenRembrandt House Museum, Amsterdam, The NetherlandsArt Museum of The HagueThe Netherlands; Victoria and Albert Museum, London, EnglandQueen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston, Tasmania, Australia;  Museum of Contemporary Art, Caracas, Venezuela

About the Author
Mel Alexenberg is an artist, educator, writer, and blogger working at the interface between art, technology, Jewish thought, and living the Zionist miracle in Israel. He is the author of "Through a Bible Lens: Biblical Insights for Smartphone Photography and Social Media," "The Future of Art in a Postdigital Age: From Hellenistic to Hebraic Consciousness," and "Dialogic Art in a Digital World: Judaism and Contemporary Art" in Hebrew. He was professor at Columbia, Bar-Ilan and Ariel universities and research fellow at MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies. His artworks are in the collections of more than forty museums worldwide. He lives in Ra’anana, Israel, with his wife artist Miriam Benjamin.
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