Picture yourself standing in a miniature barn, its walls and ceiling composed not of wood, but of chaotic and colorful paintings. Now imagine watching these paintings spring to life as they unfurl before you from individual brush strokes, existing only a few seconds before they are scribbled over and replaced just as quickly. This may sound like the stuff of dreams or hallucinogen-fueled delirium, but it is in fact quite real; this piece, titled Motion Barn, is only one of the many works featured in Faulconer Gallery’s new Animated Painting exhibition, which officially opens today.
Originally organized by the San Diego Museum of Art, the exhibit features the works of 13 artists from across the globe, all of which utilize the cutting edge medium of digital animation. Countless projectors and DVD players construct a world of surreal beauty from motion and sound, luring the spectator from one space to the next.
“There are some very interesting threads that connect the pieces even though the approaches are very different,” said Tilly Woodward, Curator of Academic and Public Outreach. Though the works embody many different artistic traditions and approaches, from digitized hand-drawn works to affected live video, the cohesiveness of the exhibition as a whole is striking.
“People are reflecting on their own traditional cultures, and they are using traditional approaches to drawing and painting, but they are also using very new technologies in terms of animation to transform and communicate those ideas,” said Woodward. “I hope it will make people think about drawing and painting processes and how as we have new technology, we see them in new ways.”
“Everybody understands visuals, and I think there is something in here that everyone can relate to, regardless of their artistic background” said Dan Strong, Associate Director of the Gallery. The universality of the visual medium is inextricably linked to today’s culture, and the installation certainly invites contemplation of the role of mass culture in the artistic process.
A vast range of programs accompanies the exhibit. Tonight’s opening reception features artist Serge Onnen, followed by a concert by “emo-tronic” band Tender Meat. Throughout the exhibit’s run, talks given by artist Kota Ezawa, Shanghai-based curator Victoria Lu, Grinnell art professor Tiffany Johnson Bidler, and Betti-Sue Hertz, curator of the original exhibition in San Diego. The Cultural Film Committee will support the exhibition through the Animation Film Festival in April. Each of the six films selected by Professor Terri Geller will be followed by discussions led by members of her Film Analysis class.
Opportunities will also be afforded for local artists to contribute; the college will sponsor open screenings as well and an open mike night, along with a table to which animators may add DVDs containing their own works. “I like the idea of the gallery as a place for the exchange of ideas; there is a whole range of people who are doing remarkable work as well” said Woodward.
Both Woodward and Strong hope that the installation’s unique qualities will inspire visitors to expand their areas of interest in the arts.
“We’re a teaching gallery, and when we can expose our students to something new, we are accomplishing our goal” said Strong.