In CentralTrak’s final in a series of MFA graduate exhibitions this summer, Caleb Shafer’s video and sculpture installation opens August 20th from 8-10pm. The artist’s experiments with video and sound culminate in this brief opportunity for patrons to immerse themselves in an orchestrated multi-media experience.
In a discussion with fellow artist and CentralTrak graduate-student-in-residence Clayton Harper, Shafer reveals details about his practice and methodology.
Harper: Many of your works render motion at an almost uncomfortably glacial pace, which to me seems like a deliberate contrast with the fluid, fast manner through which we interface with technology today. What about this sense of time and motion interests you? Is it something you’re attempting to impose on the viewer, or is it rooted in purely formal concerns?
Shafer: The primary function of the motion is to capture the feeling of expectation. That feeling of uncomfortableness, not being able to “understand” what is happening. The extended length and “slowness” gives the viewer time to move past that expectation, revealing the screen itself along with the imagery on the screen.
H: The colors you employ also have this purely synthetic quality, reminiscent at times with Cory Arcangel’s Photoshop Gradient Demonstrations, but where Arcangel’s hues are sterile and austere your compositions seem ethereal, procedural, out of focus. Artificial, but somehow mystical. What are you pushing toward with these interactions between colors? Are they influenced by nature, technology, psychology, or something else entirely?
S: The colors I use become a representation of what could be on the screen or what has happened on the screen. They are the remnants of past media and work, a reflection of what “used to be” there. Using your words mystical and ethereal, they could be seen as ghosts of past media. They reveal how we view and interact with the screen. This is where my interest lies, how we choose what to believe and how we react to different ideas. What about the screen, and the imagery on it, becomes controversial, endearing, important, boring? If the screen’s “content” is reduced down to its basic forms (color, movement, time, shape), that content becomes a different presence, a presence that is invites personal interpretation. This is the space that I like to transform, uncovering something that may not have been seen before while revealing that the screen is an active mediator between you and the content, not just a passive technology in the exchange.
H: Sound is also a central component in your work and, as with your manipulation of color, it feels neither natural nor composed but radiated by unconscious technological phenomena. What kind of synthesis are you trying to produce between sound and image? Are they separate, competing, or synonymous forces?
S: The sound is what can bring the experience of the light and color to the viewing. The image exists as light exiting the screen. Sound resonates all around you, giving you an awareness of the image as light and not just a feature of the screen.
H: What kind of dialogue are you trying to create between hardware (monitor, screen) and software (video, image) in your work? In No Violence and Earth Delete for instance, you employ clusters of small, rugged monitors, a far cry from the sleek, weightless forms we might expect from work in the new media genre. As someone who works with digital media, how do you want these forms to be presented to the viewer?
S: The hardware is part of the video itself; it is not separate from the video. The video cannot exist in the physical world without a screen. The hardware is there as a reminder that the media only exists as physical object when something else is showing it. It is reliant on technology and that’s interesting to me because all current sources of media focus on the content while ignoring how it is to be seen. In very few instances are we able to see a film or other media the way it was created or meant to be seen. By giving each work its own hardware, the piece has its own way of being seen and becomes a finished work. As to the use of older, more industrial hardware rather than a flat screen TV, I believed the works needed a more physical presence instead of trying simulate that they existed outside of screen.
H: The viewer is not merely a hypothetical object in your work, either—in several of your pieces, they are incorporated both actively and passively into the images generated by the work. What kind of power dynamic are you trying to create between the viewer and the image, and would you describe these works as interactive or reactive? Where are you positioning the viewer?
S: In the actively putting the viewer’s image on the screen through video cameras, I am further implicating the viewer a part of the work, increasing awareness to their presence and involvement.
“Efficient Degradation of Contaminants” by Caleb Shafer will be at CentralTrak Aug. 20 – Sept. 3. The opening reception will take place Saturday, Aug. 20 from 8 – 10 p.m.
Sarah Larson, (214) 830-6429
Prizes Awarded to Students for Best Photography, Painting and Multimedia Works
May 11, 2012
Clair Sumption won best black and white photo with her piece Vicissitude.
The Student Art Spring Festival comes to a close this weekend with readings from creative writing students and the year’s final choral concert.
The festival kicked off last week with the student visual art show, which featured more than 40 works from students enrolled in arts courses. Heyd Fontenot, director of CentralTrak, UT Dallas’ artist residency and gallery, juried the exhibition. Fontenot awarded prizes to Clair Sumption for best black-and-white photo; Russell Mendolla for best digital print; Luke Harnden for best painting; Pierre Krause for best printmaking graphic; and Genesis Binion for best multimedia piece.
Holly Lynn’s book of photographs, Personal Space, won a Dean’s Award.
“There were several pieces in the show which I liked quite a lot but wasn’t able to award a prize. There was too much good work and not enough prizes. I was impressed with the output,” said Fontenot.
Four students received Dean’s Awards for their work: Alice Gardner-Bates, who was awarded for an untitled oil painting; Holly Lynn for her book of photographs, Personal Space; Maggie Wurzer for Contemporary Closet, a set of acrylic paintings; and Madison Martin Pachacek for her series of watercolor paintings, Speakeasy.
For the final weekend of the festival, five creative writing students will read their fiction works and poetry at 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 12, in the Jonsson Performance Hall. The students, from graduate and undergraduate creative writing classes, are Christopher Manes, Lily Ounekeo, Andrew McConnell, Sabrina Palmieri and Lauren Davis.
Saturday, students will present the choral concert Earthly Delights and Music of the Spheres.
“The display of work by these students is emblematic of the quality of production that our creative writing classes generate. This reading offers the UT Dallas community an opportunity to support the efforts of these writers and to share in their talent and ability,” said Dr. Clay Reynolds, the University’s director of creative writing.
Also on Saturday, UT Dallas students will present the choral concert Earthly Delights and Music of the Spheres. At 8 p.m. in the University Theatre, the UT Dallas Community Chorale and the UT Dallas Chamber Singers will join a chamber orchestra in performing Ode to St. Cecilia’s Day by G. F. Handel, Choose Something Like a Star by Randall Thompson and works by Orlando di Lasso, Paul McCartney, Harold Arlen and Eric Whitacre, among others. The concert is directed by Mary Medrick and Kathryn Evans.
Both weekend events are free and open to the public. For more information, email [email protected] or call (972) UTD-ARTS.
UT Dallas winds up its March arts calendar with explorations of such diverse subject matter as the state of the arts in Dallas and the status of Judaism in China.
All events for the week are free and open to the public.
Kicking off the events will be a talk Wednesday, March 28, titled, “The Jewish Diaspora in China,” by Dr. Xu Xin, director of the Glazer Institute for Jewish Studies at Nanjing University.
The guest speaker is a professor in the Department of Religious Studies and Dean of the Institute of Jewish Studies at Nanjing University in China. He is also president of the China Judaic Studies Association; editor-in-chief and a contributor to the Chinese edition Encyclopedia Judaica; and author of The Jews of Kaifeng, China: History, Culture, and Religion (2003) and A History of Jewish Culture (2006).
His talk is at 7:30 p.m. in the Jonsson Performance Hall.
The next night, art experts will gather Thursday, March 29, at CentralTrak, UT Dallas’ artist residency and gallery in Deep Ellum, to consider a topic closer to home.
In the program, titled “Radical Regionalism,” a panel of local professors, curators and gallery directors will try to reach consensus on what is unique about the arts in the city of Dallas.
The panel will include Dr. Charissa Terranova, an assistant professor of aesthetic studies at UT Dallas. The discussion moderator will be Leigh A. Arnold, a doctoral student at UT Dallas and a researcher at the Dallas Museum of Art.
The song begins in the horn, forms at either end of this 16-foot-long structure, and moves to 14 speakers in the “body” of the piece as the music swells and distorts.
Deborah Aschheim’s art crosses boundaries and traditional subjects – she connects the invisible worlds of memory and sound with the tangible reality of bodies and buildings. Her exhibit,Method of Loci, opens at CentralTrak on Saturday, March 10, at 8 p.m.
The show takes it name from a method of memory enhancement that uses visualization to organize and recall information. The project has led her to collaborate with musicians as well as neuroscientists.
“I’m very excited to be presenting Deborah Aschheim’s work to the Metroplex. Her work illustrates a very contemporary way of incorporating scientific data and research into her studio practice,” says Heyd Fontenot, director of CentralTrak, a UT Dallas art gallery and residency in Deep Ellum.
“Her approach illustrates the nature of the Arts & Technology program at UT Dallas, so our students will enjoy it very much as well,” Fontenot says.
On display will be Aschheim’s Earworms series. The installation, produced in collaboration with musician and composer Lisa Mezzacappa, explores language and memory through sound and space.
Method of Loci will also feature new works that explore the relationship between architecture, memory and public space. Above: After Goldberg (Unrequited No. 5) 2012
“The Earworms series is named after the German word Ohrwurm, which is a fragment of song that becomes stuck in a person’s head and repeats endlessly,” Aschheim says.
“The project began as an experiment to cure aphasia by embedding words in memorable songs.”
Inspired by stories of stroke patients who had regained the ability to speak by remembering words buried in song lyrics from their past, the installations employ a list of Aschheim’s favorite words.
Mezzacappa composed and recorded a song for each word, and Aschheim built a sculpture for each song. The artists reimagine the sound and sculptural elements for each space they inhabit.
Method of Loci will also feature new works that explore the relationship between architecture, memory and public space.
“To me, modern architecture is a means to explore a narrative, drawing on the concepts of memory and history. Some of these buildings are about my same age, so they can be seen as a kind of self-portrait,” says Aschheim.
Aschheim has a master’s degree in fine arts from the University of Washington and a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and studio art from Brown University.
Six emerging female artists, all current or former UT Dallas students, are presenting their work together in the exhibit A Fraudulent Desire to Exist.
The show, which is curated by UT Dallas professors John Pomara and Greg Metz, features the work of Cassandra Emswiler, Danielle Georgiou, Emily Loving, Hillary Holsonback, Robin Myrick and Sally Glass.
The opening reception for the show will be from 5 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 14, at Steve Paul Productions, which is hosting the exhibit.
“The photo/video works in A Fraudulent Desire range from theoretical to concrete. I find it interesting that all of the artists in the show have become familiar with one another’s work over the past year, and their ideas have cross-pollinated in idiosyncratic ways. It makes sense to put these pictures into the framework of an exhibition to see how they visually respond and talk,” said Pomara.
John Pomara says the exhibit shows how the artists’ ideas “cross-pollinated in idiosyncratic ways.”
Cassandra Emswiler recently completed a two-year residency at CentralTrak while earning a Masters of Fine Arts (MFA)at UT Dallas. Her work has been exhibited throughout Texas, and in 2008, she was awarded the DeGolyer Grant from the Dallas Museum of Art.
Photographs from Cassandra Emswiler’s Scrapbookingseries document small acts of assemblage upon the pages of old scrapbooks from the artist’s childhood. These works are elegiac self-portraits where commonplace objects and imagery dialogue about the gap between memory and experience.
Danielle Georgiou is a video performance artist. She is working on her PhD in humanities and currently resides at CentralTrak. Georgiou combines video and live performance to explore the image of woman in contemporary society. Her work investigates the performative notions of femininity, sexuality, identity and music.
Emily Loving is a photographer and MFA candidate. Loving approaches photography as a reflexive process of self-discovery. Focusing on abandoned materials as containers of events and memories, her subjects “reveal curious and nearly forgotten traces of human experience.”
Hillary Holsonback is a performative photographer based in Dallas. She currently resides at CentralTrak, and is working toward her MFA. Using advertisements and a camera, Holsonback literally inserts herself into the flow of consumer print culture by mixing self-portraits with the ads.
Robin Myrick is an instructor and doctoral candidate. Her photo series The Conversation explores the mediation and discourse of portraiture. Her largerbody of work is concerned with the rhetoric and convergence of identity, politics, consumerism, performance and disaster.
Sally Glass is a Dallas-based photographer, pursuing her MFA. Glass “explores those tiny hidden universes that one finds within.” These abstract environments emerge as huge and all encompassing, invoking times and places long since passed by reflecting those memories in imaginary worlds.
Shannon Novak began his artistic career as a pianist – he composed and performed his own music at an early age. When he started working in the visual arts, however, he didn’t anticipate that his musical training would inform his craft.
Novak’s exhibit at the CentralTrak gallery, One Song, Three Composers, uses geometric forms to represent the intersections of sound, color, form, time, space and social context.
The installation examines sound as exploding outward from a focal point of three pianos set in a triangle. The three pianos represent the fusion of three theories that relate color with sound in different ways.
“It is this fusion of disparate elements that causes a ‘sound explosion’ with sound waves emanating outwardly from the focal point. The sound waves spread outwardly over time in three phases, which is represented by a unique blend of geometric form and energized color,” said Novak.
Novak came from his native New Zealand to live and work at CentralTrak, the UT Dallas gallery and residency in Deep Ellum.
“CentralTrak provides an opportunity for creative focus. The supportive environment freed me from the distractions of my life in New Zealand, and allowed me to deeply focus on a specific line of inquiry, in this case the interconnections between fine art, music and science,” said Novak.
“I’ve learned a lot about my practice and research as a visual artist, and my place in the larger art world. I came away encouraged and motivated to get out there and continue to make a mark on this world with my work. Being a resident at CentralTrak is an experience I will reflect on and be proud of for the rest of my life.”
On Saturday, Dec. 17, from 6 to 9 p.m. One Song, Three Composers will be closing with presentations from UT Dallas alumnus Richard Merrick and UT Dallas graduate students and poets Amanda Preston and Allene Nichols.
Merrick BA’81, MS’87 has spent 25 years exploring software design, multimedia development and Internet communications. He founded Postfuture Inc., which became Forrester Research’s top e-messaging technology provider in 2004, ranked fourth in the Deloitte Fast 50 and was honored in the Inc. 500.
Merrick has also published several books and articles on the physics, historical and social ramifications of harmonic science, which explores perception of music. Throughout his career, he has maintained close ties to the University. Merrick is a guest lecturer at UT Dallas and serves on the advisory council for the School of Arts & Humanities.
Following Merrick’s presentation, Preston and Nichols will present their collaborative performance, Synesthetic Ars Poetic, which includes original work created in response to Novak’s installation.
On Saturday, December 3, CentralTrak will be hosting a family day in the gallery, for parents and their children to come in an experience the current exhibit, “One Song, Three Composers,” in an unique way.
The gallery will be transformed into a workshop space for families to create their own color collages in response to visiting artist Shannon Novak’s work. The collages that are created will be transcribed and played by a musician. This activity works toward the theory of synesthesia—the idea that one type of stimulation evokes the sensation of another, as when the hearing of a sound produces the visualization of a color.
A look at capitalism’s future by science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson leads off a series of UT Dallas arts events in a week that also includes a dance performance, jazz concert and an art exhibit opening.
Best known for his award-winning Mars trilogy, Robinson will give a talk Wednesday, Nov. 16, titled Valuing the Earth and Future Generations: Imagining Post Capitalism. Robinson argues that our current economic system undervalues both the environment and future human generations and leaves us ill-prepared for future changes.
“The problem is that the future is so hard to imagine that we tend to take analogies from the past,” Robinson said at the Bruce Initiative on Rethinking Capitalism conference at UC Santa Cruz in April.
Robinson challenges science to design a more effective economic system.
His talk is at 7:30 p.m. in the Jonsson Performance Hall.
Robinson has published 15 novels and several short story collections, many of which explore ecological and sociological themes. Recently, the U.S. National Science Foundation sent Robinson to Antarctica as part of its Antarctic Artists and Writers Program. He holds a PhD in English from UC San Diego.
Other arts events scheduled this week include:
- The dance performance I’m Not Invisible, at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 17, in the Jonsson Performance Hall. Choreographed by faculty member Micki Saba, the dance is inspired by Mattie Stepanek, a young boy who celebrated life despite being born with a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy. The performance expresses the challenges of long-term illness, physical disability and learning differences.
- A jazz concert featuring drummer Butch Miles, leading a group of local musicians, on Friday, Nov. 18. Lynn Seaton will accompany him on bass, Karl Lampman on sax, Tony Baker on trombone, Jack Evans on trumpet and UT Dallas faculty member Kelly Durbin on piano. The concert starts at 8 p.m. in the Jonsson Performance Hall.
- The opening of One Song, Three Composers by Shannon Novak at CentralTrak, the UT Dallas artist residency and gallery in Deep Ellum. Three electronic pianos will form the focal point of the exhibition, each chromatically altered. The triangle of keyboards will represent the connection and intersection of three different theoretical approaches of mapping color to sound. The instruments also act as a birthing point for the geometric abstractions on the gallery walls. The opening reception for the exhibit will be Saturday, Nov. 19, 8-10 p.m. The show runs until Dec. 17.
On Saturday at 7 p.m., CentralTrak will host the opening reception for CIncArt: The Convention on Incorporated Art.
CIncArt is a group exhibition highlighting 10 contemporary art projects within a trade show format.
“It has become commonplace for artists to create work in the form of bureaus, laboratories, museums, companies, etc.,” said Tom Russotti, CentralTrak resident and curator of the exhibition. “Artists, artist groups and art projects variously employ the forms and techniques of organizational structures in both their work and practice. CIncArtexamines this phenomenon.”
This interactive exhibition will include performances and events in and outside the gallery space. Work will also be presented through a mixture of media and performances by the artists and their representatives.
Centraltrak is a Deep Ellum artist residency and gallery that is part of the UT Dallas School of Arts and Humanities.
“I’m excited for our second show of the season, which is unconventional in that it is interactive and performative based. This show strays from the traditional gallery experience,” said CentralTrak director Heyd Fontenot. “The emphasis isn’t on aesthetic beauty or ‘consumable’ decorative arts.”
CentralTrak, the University of Texas at Dallas artist residency and gallery, will offer art to be seen as well as heard in two free events this weekend.
“I hope for a good turnout,” said Heyd Fontenot, the director of CentralTrak. “We want people to come see the space where UT Dallas students live and work.”
On Friday, in a mix of poetry and painting, Mike Guinn will offer a spoken-word performance related to art hanging at the gallery. The featured artist is El Franco Lee II, whose socially reflective paintings confront controversial and unsettling subject matter—such as hip-hop cultural turf wars and the tragedies of post-Katrina New Orleans.
Guinn, a native Texan who holds a master’s degree in social work, was inspired by his job with Child Protective Services to write and perform poetry that advocates for social justice. Guinn’s performance is at 7 p.m. Friday.