By Geo Gomez
Andy Delany ’13 and Caleb Neubauer ’13 opened a joint exhibit in the Smith Gallery this week called Light Gestures, featuring work produced after a summer fellowship in China.
The Lan-Chang fellowship sends students to China in order to create studio projects based on their experiences abroad. In the case of Delany and Neubauer, this culminated in artwork for a Mentored Advanced Project (MAP) and this Smith Gallery show.
Their trip to China influenced their pieces in various ways. Delany focused on the ever-changing nature of China, while Neubauer depicted gestures he observed in China. Both pieces, with their focus on continuous movement, reveal the duo’s inspiration from the quote, “You can never step into in the same river twice.”
Delany’s piece, “Current,” features an image scrolling across the screen with three separate images placed behind it. The scrolling image lacks a concrete form, akin to the lines scrawled across a page in a seismograph. By itself, the image clearly represents flow and momentum. This movement draws from Delany’s fascination with China’s industrial and dynamic nature.
“You can’t take a snapshot of all this. Things are blurring by, and this abstract moving image is a record of some of this movement happening,” Delany said.
A film camera usually captures frames at such a quick rate that the series of pictures passes off as movement, but Delany’s image was produced by a camera that actually captured a continuous image, allowing him to represent the dynamism of China.
“There’s no shutter opening and closing [more than once], so the image is smeared along the film,” Delany said.
The scrolling image represents the river in the quote, as well as portraying the fast moving industry of China. Combining still images of construction sites in China with the scrolling image Delany manages to project movement onto otherwise static images.
“All this movement is happening on top of all these materials, and all three frames exist on their own. Having three frames of different material would add to the idea that there’s not just one place or one material,” Delany said.
Neubauer’s piece, “Touch,” has three separate animations—“Pluck,” “Scrape” and “Knead.” Each title refers to the action that Neubauer has captured in animation by drawing each individual frame. The pieces involved meticulous work, with Neubauer making a total of 170 drawings.
Each portrait captures a few seconds of life in China that Neubauer encountered. Each piece is a moment in time that was captured by memory, and then translated into a piece of art. Neubauer drew inspiration from the concept of a portrait, which allows a viewer to comfortably contemplate a person without fear of the subject being uncomfortable.
“[I was interested in] the idea of being able to stand there and watch this continuous movement and allow the viewer to indulge in watching that,” Neubauer said.
With the lack of faces portrayed in the pieces, the focus is on the action, not the people themselves. Each piece meticulously depicts the movement of human hands that, though not connected to any visible bodies, are clearly brought to life through animation. The intimacy in the second piece, “Knead,” which features a scene Neubauer observed on a train of a granddaughter playing with her grandfather’s hands, is crisp and emotional.
“They’re like moving hung pictures,” Neubauer said.
Accompanying each drawing is a sound that resonates with the movement. “Scrape” features a mandolin’s whining, while “Knead” features a singing bowl’s gentle hum.
“Music is also something … I wanted to incorporate,” Neubauer said.
Both pieces manage to capture the momentum present in something as innocent as a playful act on the train, or the energetic activity of industrialization. In the end, the artists capture the nonstop movement of life.
The two artists thanked Professor Lee Running, Art, and Professor David Harrison, French, especially for being extremely helpful in their pursuit, saying that they could not have done it without them.
Their work will be found at http://lightgestures.wordpress.com soon.