Artist talk at Media Arts Research Studio, Johnson State College, VT. 2010.
This talk is going to be a little bit about evolution.
Not just human evolution, but how my own work has evolved over the past few years.
To start off I’ll be showing you some images from an interactive video installation called Life Games.
This next piece is a bit more recent and focuses upon the more ephemeral nature of our society by investigating our use of slang. This piece is called Semantic Frottage.
Now I’d like share some images form another interactive performance that really examines how intimacy can be created with an audience. This piece, Euphemistic GMO, plays upon the old Birds & Bees adage while establishing a maze-like installation with multiple projections and live dancers . This piece investigated intimacy by juxtaposing the bird/bee “Frankenstein” hybrids with the “shadows” of two lovers in tantric positions. As the audience moved through the maze their shadows and the shadows of the dancers became inseparably intertwined with the shadows of the lovers.
From the birds & bees installation I became very interested in what actual nightlife was happening in my own backyard, literally, what was happening not in virtual worlds online, but what was happening in Modesto.
And this really got me started down a new path – a long term project with a larger scope, which I directly involve my students in.
This project is about Modesto, and the overall project is called the Building Imagination Initiative. Why? As the Director of the Modesto Art Museum, Bob Barzan says, “Modesto is suffering from a poverty of imagination.”
The Building Imagination Initiative is offered to students who wish to gain core industry experiences through a project based, integrated learning environment which has strategic partnerships with leading non-profits. Dedicated to creative applications of digital technologies and targeted service learning opportunities within Modesto, CA and the greater Central Valley, the Building Imagination Initiative is a highly innovative research program which focuses upon the low quality of life rankings of the Central Valley and the re-imagining of its future as a metaphorical bridge for social struggles endemic to humanity itself.
So the aspect of this project that I had students develop last semester in my Experimental Video course was a video series re-examining the residential architecture and the waterways of Modesto – imagining ways they could evolve into a local Utopia. Modesto has a slogan which we are using to frame the project: Water, Wealth, Contentment, Health.
My two current courses have students involved in a hypothetical service learning project using the framework of an alternate reality game, again still using the ideas and foundations of theBuilding Imagination Initiative to envision a local Utopia of the students’ creation.