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Saturday, February 6, 2010

Of Prospectives and Pig Bladders

I'm still catching up on activities that happened towards the end of last semester or over the break; one of the highlights of that period for me was the Prospectives 09 festival, a digital arts festival organized by Joseph DeLappe, a Professor of Digital Art at UNR.

I wrote a review of a portion of the festival for Rhizome -- specifically, an exhibit hosted at UNR's Sheppard Gallery. Here's a quote:

It seemed there was a common desire to enlist the spectator as a participant. Open until December 16, 2009, the works included in the show involved a fair amount of “play,” but the artists seemed attuned to the complexities involved with the interaction between machine and participant, thus it’s play inflected with critique.

I didn't have room to cover the performance aspect of the festival, a cluster of multimedia pieces presented at the Nevada Museum of Art. The performances were worthy of a write-up in themselves, though at this point I only have a couple fugitive notes to offer. Below are two photos Joseph sent me. The first shows Stephanie Lie's Vibrating Milk, in which a camera trained on a drum head covered with milk sent a live feed to the big movie screen in the NMA's Wayne and Miriam Prim Theater. Modulated sound got the drum head vibrating, and the milk was perturbed into a variety of shimmering patterns -- on the big screen, we were treated to a mix of a constantly-shifting abstract expressionist painting, and a 60s psychedelia rock show backdrop.

The second photo is of Natalia Jaeger's Miranda. Jaeger offered the audience bananas, and then invited the audience to watch a clip of Carmen Miranda projected on her underwear. We watched the Busby Berkely-choreographed dancers navigate their giant bananas through their geometric progressions (even without the upskirt proscenium, it would be impossible to miss the phallic implications of a bevy of female dancers wielding massive bananas. But it was still a bit of a revelation to see the bananas, at one point -- as they were ranged into a circular bullseye -- suddenly become teeth in a canary vagina dentata). And while we watched, Jaeger regarded the audience with eyes of dull malice, slowly chewing the heads off a small bouquet of flowers.

Nor did I have space, in the Rhizome review, to elaborate on the swarm of flying pig bladders that were set whirling in the air above the UNR campus one evening. They were the work of Doo-Sung Yoo, who has created a variety of pieces that meld robotics with animal parts.

(first pic courtesy of Joe, the others are mine)

I actually caught the outdoor installation by accident, on my way to an unrelated dance performance at UNR. After the dance, on my way through the Church Fine Arts Building at UNR, I came across a cluster of the pig bladder balloons corralled at the end of an empty hallway, quietly jostling each other, unattended. It was gratifyingly eerie.

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