June 30, 2016
June 20, 2016
I like being able to give people a new way to interact with art.
When the Portland Museum of Art was looking for a way to allow visitors to create soundscapes in response to paintings in their O’Keeffe, Stettheimer, Torr, Zorach: Women Modernists in New York exhibition, for their PMA360 series, Digital Media Professor and Program Chair George LaRou ’88 recommended they get in touch with Sam Richardson ’15, which resulted in the Exploring Modernism Through Sound project.
Sam came up with some ideas for a reactive space that would generate sounds or a live performance, but eventually the concept of leading people through a creative process emerged as the central theme. The problem with programs like Pro Tools and Logic, software that professionals would use, was that they were much too complex for a casual untrained visitor. “Even GarageBand was too much for a situation where you want visitors to focus on the paintings and not get caught up in the interface,” Sam said. “My solution was to custom-build an app inspired by these programs, but streamlined to the point where no one would be too intimidated to pick it up and make their own composition.”
“My background is in things like computer coding, electronics, digital media — my BFA is in Digital Media — so making an app wasn’t totally new to me. It was my first time making what I’d consider a ‘functional’ app though, using standard developer tools and libraries that could work well enough to stand up to three hours of use. The process of actually building the app involved: collecting ambient sound recordings that evoked the time period and scenes depicted in the paintings; sketching out interface ideas; researching programming solutions; writing code; designing the text and graphics; and testing and tweaking the code and design many, many times.”
Sam had about three weeks to pull together the project, from conception to final product. Using Swift programming language and AudioKit, an open source audio toolkit for Apple platforms, he was able to create a grid of 10 or 16 sound loops that the user could tap to start or stop and which could be combined to make a composition. Tapping a menu icon below each sound opened a list of effects such as volume, pan, pitch, and reverb that could be edited to customize the sounds even further. The sessions could be saved and titled, as well as listened to or added to, by being accessed from any location. “This sort of took the place of a live performance by various sound artists,” Sam said. “Visitors’ own compositions became a part of the event that was displayed.”
Despite a few technical glitches during the test runs, the project was successful. “The museum staff who worked with me were really happy with the direction and how the whole thing turned out. It was a surprisingly well-running installation, by my standards,” said Sam. “I think the event went very well, better than I had hoped. I saw all sorts of people use the app in different ways — one visitor went to every iPad and spent minutes making intricate soundscapes, others played with it in passing, and a few picked up an iPad and carried it from painting to painting. Everyone seemed to get something different from the experience. My favorite was a little girl whose face lit up whenever she played a different sound. I had a few great conversations with like-minded people too.”
“I like being able to give people a new way to interact with art. There’s something about mixing new media and traditional media that appeals to me for whatever reason. Maybe I just want to be able to work in programming and art at the same time and not deal with some kind of ‘left brain vs. right brain,’ ‘science vs. art’ distinction. It all feels the same to me.”
Our goal is to shed local light on the cutting-edge and incredibly important research that Bigelow has been conducting, and to explore the relationships between artistic and scientific creativity and discovery.
Printmaking alum Carter Shappy Printmaking ’15 is the Artist-in-Residence at Bigelow Lab. After graduation, Carter wanted to expand his practice to incorporate a science component; MECA connected him with Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in East Boothbay. You can follow his blog at art.bigelow.org.
Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Science’s mission is to investigate the microbial drivers of global ocean processes through basic and applied research, education, and enterprise. What is learned will be essential to the conservation and responsible use of the ocean and the many valuable services it provides.
Carter has worked with scientist Senior Research Scientist Dr. Steve Archer and Research Associate Carlton Rauschenberg who are researching the impacts of ocean acidification on microbiological producers of DMS (dimethyl sulfide), a gas involved in heat reflecting cloud formation. The three of them have spent the last four months investigating the relationships between scientific and artistic creativity and discovery, while trying to coalesce Carter’s art and Dr. Archer’s research into one engaging and immersive installation.
This influenced Carter to create a series of 6 suspended screen-printed plastic cylinders, each cylinder reflecting a color of the visible light spectrum hung in order in relation to each color’s absorption at varying depths of open ocean. The piece, Colorcosm, directly emulates the form of pelagic mesocosms, which are experimental water enclosures used in Dr. Archer’s research on ocean acidification and sea/atmosphere gas exchange.
The end result is a gorgeous installation, Fantastic Empiricism: The Science of Mesocosms and the Expression of Light which is on view in the the lab until September 2016.
I have been pushed outside of my comfort, a very tight academic approach to painting, into alternative methods of describing form. I am slowly learning to become fearless in my practice and embrace experimentation.
Describe a body of work that you are currently working on.
I am currently exploring the contrasts between my Bosnian upbringing and how moving to America created an intense shift in my personal development. My primary medium of choice is oil paint, but more recently I’ve been diving back into my love for drawing at an attempt to find a relationship between the two. I use the human figure as a vehicle to directly connect to a viewer emotionally. I describe inner turmoil through the portrayal of an outside force being inflicted upon these figures– this is an attempt to relate back to my concepts while also leaving room for the viewers own interpretation.
What made you chose to study art?
As a child I’ve always resolved problems visually; this carried through to my high school years until ultimately deciding upon a Fine Art focus at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, New York. After receiving an Associates Degree, I wanted to continue my studies and transferred to MECA. My work has always been strongest two dimensionally but I am hoping to expand beyond that comfort into something more sculptural or installation based. I felt that the painting major would give me the most freedom in realizing my ideas.
How has your education at MECA shaped you as an artist? How has your practice changed over time?
While I did not spend my first two years of schooling at MECA, I feel that my artistic practice has been greatly influenced by the professors and curriculum since being here. I have been pushed outside of my comfort, a very tight academic approach to painting, into alternative methods of describing form. I am slowly learning to become fearless in my practice and embrace experimentation. I think a lot of strong ideas have gone to waste because I have convinced myself out of them, so I am attempting to resolve this.
What inspires you?
My greatest inspiration comes from the people I surround myself with. I have been lucky enough to have an incredibly motivated and talented group of individuals during my time at both Hudson Valley and MECA . Their honesty and support is what keeps me pushing through any obstacles in the studio.
What do you hope to do after graduation?
After graduation I’d like to continue my studies into a MFA Program. Ultimately my hopes are to pursue a career in teaching, but I would enjoy working within a curatorial field as well.
What’s the advice you’ve ever received?
As I was finishing my last year at my previous school, I spent a couple hours in my professor’s office panicking about my transfer to MECA. What resonated with me most was, “The worst thing that could happen in your career as an artist is convincing yourself you’re not qualified to be one. There will be plenty of people who will tell you this along the way– don’t be one of them and give em hell.”
I encourage my students to be curious, thoughtful explorers of life and visual culture. Participating in this process of discovery and potential is extremely rewarding.
Visitors to Joshua Reiman’s website are greeted by the enigmatic film still of a man in a suit and bow tie climbing up from the Seine river in Paris with a snorkel mask perched on the top of his head. The character is from Reiman’s film Panning for the Immaterial (2015). He is looking for the gold from Yves Klein’s 1959 seminal conceptual artwork Zones of Immaterial Pictorial Sensibility, where Klein dumped gold into the Seine as a gesture of selling a space that does not exist. The muted elegance of the image aptly reflects Joshua’s multifaceted and exploratory artistic career, which currently includes teaching at MECA as an Assistant Professor of the MFA in Studio Art + Sculpture.
Joshua works in sculpture, film, video and photography and 2016 has already been busy, starting with the exhibit MAXIMUM MINIMUM IN UNUM, which he co-curated with Susanne Slavick at Carnegie Mellon University’s Miller Gallery, and which explored the dichotomy between“over-the-top” (Reiman) and “less is more” (Slavick). Writer Colin McFadden wrote in the online publication Dear Pittsburgh, “the works displayed are meant to eschew discrete classification. Loosely translated, it refers to the maximum and the minimum in fact of one, two sides of the same coin, exploring themes that sometimes run parallel, sometimes converge. Even the stylistic choice of articulating the exhibition in all capital letters reinforces the curatorial concept.”
My Castle is your Home, curated by Helga Schmidhuber, opens March 12 and runs through May 1, 2016, at Nassauischer Kunstverein Wiesbaden (NKV) in Wiesbaden, Germany. The focus of the group exhibit lies in inviting people into her Helga’s “stronghold” to view artwork by colleagues and friends, whom she met during her studies at Kunstakademie Dusseldorf, or through art residencies. The exhibit includes work from four of Joshua’s films (2009-2015), and a photograph from his G. Washington (2001) series, described in an essay by Stefan Osdene as “imploring viewers to consider how notions of heroism, celebrity, and rebellion have shaped the popular culture of two distinct epochs in American history: the period of the Revolutionary War and the Hip-Hop era. Viewers are confronted by provocative images of George Washington and his compatriots wearing powdered wigs, grills (gold teeth), diamond-encrusted pendants, and customized basketball uniforms – individuals who strut around with a sense of swagger and confidence more befitting gangster rappers of the late 1990s than revolutionary leaders.”
Meanwhile, The Mountain and the Bumble Bee, curated by Chris McGinnis, opens March 25 and runs through April 22, 2016 at the Pennsylvania College of Art and Design. This exhibit was inspired by a travel log by geologist and land surveyor John C. Fremont, who noted in his 1842 travel log an unlikely high-altitude encounter with a bumblebee, during which he imagines each of them to be the first of their species to brave the geological extreme of the Rocky Mountain territory. The group exhibit features Joshua’s four-channel film A Brief Inquiry (2010) and other works by contemporary artists and poets that explore notions of landscape, highlighting America’s “contradictory role as both steward and exploiter.”
Joshua’s work often uses iconic figures from art and politics to “anchor new narratives at the junction of where reality and fiction meet” and his work has been exhibited in galleries and museums across the United States, in Germany and in Estonia. Prior to joining MECA, Joshua was a visiting professor of art at Carnegie Mellon University where he taught sculpture, installation, and site work. Josh has an MFA in sculpture from Syracuse University and a BFA in sculpture from the Kansas City Art Institute.
MECA has expanded the way that I think about materials. It has given me the freedom to experiment with anything that I can imagine, although sometimes that freedom is extremely overwhelming.
Catherine Quattrociocchi ’17 (Metalsmithing & Jewelry) was accepted into the juried exhibition Any Portmanteau in a Storm, a showcase in the blending of techniques, materials, and ideas to create the perfect storm of conceptual creativity through Wearable Art. The opening reception is Saturday, April 2, 6:00–8:00pm and the exhibition is on view until April 22, 2016. The exhibition is located in the Norfolk Arts District at 740 Duke Street, Norfolk, VA 23510.
Catherine’s two pieces in the exhibition are part of a body of work that consists of physical sketches exploring the notion of interruption. This is her first national juried exhibition.
Lewis worked with Mark Fleming, the Visuals Editor of Dispatch Magazine, to fully conceptualize the illustrations for each article. When asked about the experience, Lewis said “The people over at Dispatch are great to work with and are incredibly professional.”
Vivian Beer ’00 was announced the Winner of Ellen DeGeneres’ Design Challenge on last night’s finale. Vivian won a $100,000 cash prize from Wayfair.com and her work will be featured in HGTV Magazine. The episode challenged the final two contestants to design furniture for greenrooms at The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
“I made this compilation during a 13,000-mile road trip through rural America. These are places that were off the big highways. They are forgotten, lonely places. I attempted to capture their desolate beauty.”
Can you describe the project?
In 2013, I began a 13,000 mile motorcycle trip around the country. These vignettes were shot everywhere between Oregon to Kentucky.
This film started out as separate shorter films. It was something new for me and I wasn’t really sure what to do with it. I made a larger compilation but it lacked something. That is when I asked Zak to come up with an atmospheric soundtrack.
What was your process in the making of the film?
This film is a companion piece to the photos that I took on my trip. I feel that they exist as moving photographs. After riding for a number of days, I would come to a place that I was interested in. It could have been the name, the history or the landscape that attracted me. I would then walk around and look. After a day or two it would be time move on.
What was the process of collaborating with Zak for the music like?
Zak and my collaboration was very straightforward. We met up for coffee, talked about the clips and some general ideas I had. From there, I left it completely in Zak’s hands. I’m constantly excited by what he came up with. He did a great job.
What goals were accomplished? Were there things you wish went differently?
This was an opportunity for me to play. I didn’t have an ultimate goal, besides making something interesting. I did my part; Zak completed it.
How has your education at MECA shaped you as an artist?
MECA was a great place for me. I loved the faculty, students, and the facilities. I hadn’t taken any art classes in high school. But I had taken a few summer photo courses. When I was choosing a college, I didn’t see myself anywhere else but art school.
While I went to MECA I really came into my own. The faculty provided me with the tools I needed to find my own voice. It also gave me the connections with some really great artists, such as Zak.
View Harlan’s work here.
What was your process for creating the soundtrack for the film?
Creating the soundtrack for For the Love of Dolphins was essentially just me responding to Harlan’s visuals on synthesizers. He told me to do whatever I wanted with the sound and gave me the film 100% silent so there was a lot of opportunity for me to explore in this project.
I immediately knew within moments of my first viewing that I wanted to use only synthesizers in the scoring process. I started by brainstorming for ideas by playing a soft-synth version of the Roland Jupiter-8 while I watched the film on repeat, taking note of moments I felt strong emotional responses to. After a few hours of creating and shaping the synthesizer sounds I wanted to use in the 12 scenes of the film, I recorded myself improvising four live sessions in my home studio, each one ranging between 20 and 45 minutes long.
From there, I searched for motifs within the recorded performances that resonated with some of the emotions I felt in the landscapes of Harlan’s film. Those motifs became the foundations for each scene of the film and the rest of the composition process was just building new motifs off of older ones, editing my performances, adding layers, and eventually adding a couple samples to the mix. I completed the score in just two back-to-back 12-hour studio sessions.
The sound design for this film was inspired by the ambient works of Oneohtrix Point Never, Tim Hecker, Brian Eno, and Phillip Glass.
What were the goals accomplished? Was there anything you wished went differently?
The main goal I had in scoring For the Love of Dolphins was to use the color and texture of sound to guide the viewer through the cinematography that Harlan documented on his cross-country motorcycle trip. I think I accomplished this goal by using and reusing musical motifs as if they were characters in the film.
I felt that an unexpected success of this soundtrack was the complexity of the dialogue it seems to bring up about nature, sustainability, industry, and death. I don’t think I would change any aspect of the soundtrack if I had to do it again.
How has your education at MECA shaped you as an artist?
My education at MECA helped me develop a strong visual language and taught me how to creatively respond to my abstract feelings, concepts, and thoughts. Though I did not study music at MECA, the things I learned about art and about myself in my college career shaped me as a composer and visual artist all the same.