21 April 2015

Pop-Up Projection Pavilion Makes News

This article in UM Bentley Historical Library's Collections Magazine marks the first anniversary of Studio 520, the black-box video studio at UM's North Campus Research Complex and home of the Pop-Up Projection Pavilion.  The system provides for three transparencies of video to be seen at once via synchronization of three short-throw projectors casting my own video imagery I perform, film and edit onto three theatrical scrims. With its framed scrims suspended 7' apart, the PUPP allows for kinetic counterpoint in a 14' field of depth, and a dancer's form can navigate between screens and radically transform the viewer's sense of scale and depth. Stereo speakers at each screen evoke the sonic equivalent of visual depth. See link to demo video. 

After a summer of planning and construction by Robert Adams, Taubman School of Architecture & Urban Planning, the structure was assembled in a black-box studio space granted to me by Dave Canter and the North Campus Research Complex for one year.  I had proposed my idea to Canter in January, 2015 and was allowed to occupy the studio in April. The agreement was that I would provide monthly “open studios” for NCRC employees, the UM community and the general public. As of April, I immediately began shooting video studies to edit and project using a makeshift configuration of scrims and projectors. The finished PUPP was completed and installed on August 21.

I presented three programs beginning in September 2014: Kinetic Counterpoint, In-Depth: Studies in Depth Perception and 3-Screen Shorts. The contents varied in subject matter, casting, spatial settings, editing approaches, and musical scoring.  I videotaped 30 UM Dance students and alumni using green screen during reserved weeks at the Duderstadt Video Studio in May and September. Using that footage, I created a dozen studies exploring depth and counterpoint by floating dancers in a black void and evoking a unified field within which they navigated between the three screens.  I made works using myself as subject in various sites: the emptied ROTC building (with permission from the President’s Office and Plant Operations), a large, screened-in cottage porch in Northern Michigan, and the Willow Run Bomber Plant. Finally, I returned to footage I’d accumulated over the past decade to reimagine it for the PUPP. All in all, I made approximately 15 new works and 20 shorter studies or “etudes”.

I invited classes from Art & Design, PAT, Living Arts, and Dance to visit the PUPP for my guided tour.  Since September, I have hosted Gary Krenz, (Executive Director, U-M Bicentennial), Liz Barry, (Counsel to the President), Dr. Joel Howell and 25 of his medical students of the Medical Arts program, Dean Christopher Kendall and Associate Dean John Ellis, members of UM Composition, PAT and Art & Design faculties, Robert Elmes from Galapagos Art Space, Brian Rogers, director of the Chocolate Factory, NYC, guest choreographer Richard Alston, and representatives from Ann Arbor Film Festival and Performance Network.

I recently offered the PUPP to Tiffany Huang, senior in Art & Design, for her final senior project to be presented on April 21. PAT graduating senior Simon Alexander-Adams will make a work for the PUPP this coming summer.

My experience wit the PUPP has expanded my understanding of the visuality and kinesthetic impact of bodies on the screen. (It has also challenged my knowledge of video technology!)  I plan to write about this expanded poetics of dance for the screen for my DUP lecture next year. Hopefully, I will be able to have the PUPP installed so that attendees can witness it live at that time.

Links to a selection of works made for PUPP while at NCRC (edited for single screen):

Prelude & Fugue

Thou Shalt Not 

Portrait of Jun

The Sean Chronicles

Studio Set/Duets: Alex & Xan

Studio Set/Duets: Ali & Thayer