The Studio of Eric Valosin

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

As Above, So Below, Part 1

[A quick note from the fuuuuuuture: if you'd like to follow the progress of this project from the beginning you're in the right place. If you're feeling impatient and you'd like to jump to the ending, you can do so here. Now then, enough anachronism. Where were we?)

Amid all the other stuff going on right now (install and an opening for a museum show, my son's second birthday, moving, and being in a wedding, all in the next week and a half!) I've also got this series of events coming up in July (see the third announcement here for more info), centered around a commissioned church installation.

The choir loft/chancel area has this fantastic sloped forced-perspective style ceiling that I thought would be lovely to project onto, so I will be creating an interactive projection piece called As Above, So Below, which will, in some form, transport the congregants onto that ceiling space. 

First, I began testing out some projection options, and then masking off the projection to anamorphically map to the ceiling space...

Trying to maximize throw distance without blinding whoever's preaching...

By drawing off the boundaries of the ceiling in illustrator and projecting black wherever the ceiling isn't, I was able to isolate the space for projection.

Here it is, the anamorphic projection with a grid to show "verticals" and "horizontals"...

...which actually look like this when laid flat, on account of the distortion from the angle of the ceiling and of the projector.
 My ultimate plan is to do something along the lines of using a Kinect sensor to project the silhouettes of the congregants into different overlapping positions on the ceiling, coalescing to reveal a stained glass like imagery, or perhaps in some places cutting away to reveal sky, or some other imagery. I tend to be pretty calculating with this sort of stuff, so I'm deliberately letting the imagery evolve as it goes, to see what kind of interesting stuff happens when I start overlaying transparencies and letting the images spill out as they please.

But in the mean time, I couldn't help myself...

Pretending that I'm James Turrell, if only for a moment! So satisfying! It really makes it hard to go back to thinking about imagery after immersing yourself in an endless array of colored light options!

Ok, where was I? Ah yes...

Mapped off the locations of the light fixtures and whatnot, so that I can design around them if need be

Taking note of the projector location (I'm a bit worried about that, but I've been told "put it wherever you need to!" I deliberately avoided the center aisle space (there are normally chairs arranged in rows like pews), but I worry about the line of sight for the people sitting behind the pedestal... here's hoping the payoff is worth the temporary inconvenience for them.

Some interesting conceptual things will end up happening because of the position of the kinect and the projection anamorphosis. For one, the Kinect will view people in front of the chancel area, but not in the chancel area. So, the spectators outside of the chancel area will be integrated into the area (inviting them up into the choir loft, sharing the space of the cross and blurring the line between sacred space and lay space), yet at the same time when one physically goes up there, their body will cease to be in the projection, and the image will become pixelated and distorted because of the severe ceiling angle. In away, this is the apophasis of the piece, as the closer you get to the divine representation, the more it falls apart and slips through your fingers. It's inviting and estranging at the same time.

In the same vein, the image will be created by the interactions of the lay people, not from the worship leaders. This de-centered socialization of the sacred space falls in line with my postmodern leanings towards a God that is found in all places, not just in the pious elite, and is revealed relationally.

This idea of "As above, so below" is apophatically postmodern as well, at once dualistic and non-dualistic. It can be read to imply that there is a split between the "above" and the "below," with a correlative relationship to each other (think Pauline Dualism). Or it can be read to imply that there is no split, that what we commonly thought to be "above" and "below" are actually one, not to be separated by distinction, beyond this recognition (think certain branches of kingdom theology). Its this ambiguity that I enjoy - the interplay between the "here" and the "there," and the disjunction/unification of the two that happens in the projection.

Next step is to translate that ceiling image mask to the imagery that will be revealed by the silhouettes, and then translate that all into Processing, which will control the whole interactive shindig! Ready, set, go!

...well, I was worried about the pedestal being too tall for people... I guess I don't have to worry about that any more! As I was transporting the pedestal back into my studio the top just popped right off in my hands! That shortens it a good 6 inches, anyway.
Follow this project to the next post about it here

Monday, June 23, 2014

Moving Towards the Light

This weekend I traveled up to Attleboro, MA to begin installing my piece for See the Light at the Attleboro Arts Museum. Left the house at 5 am for the 4 hour drive, and arrived just as the museum opened, and joined the director, a few other artists, gallery assistants, and volunteers in getting to work!

A feat of modern engineering, I managed to get a 48" diameter masonite circle, 18" square pedestal, projector, computers, painting materials, and hanging supplies all into my wife's Nissan Versa!

Carefully padded and strapped in, and leveled with MDF scraps underneath to make a flat surface

At last I arrived!

Excited to learn my piece has been designated for the Title wall of the show!

laying out my stuff

Got the circle hanging!

readying the projector across the way so that people can walk in front of it to get to the other side and thereby interact with the projection negation.

A brilliant curatorial move, setting up relationships between pieces

resizing the projection in order to mask it off and begin painting

My space was designated by a traffic cone, a la Erik Sanner!

how many identical images can we display at once??


Screw Driver + Belt Loop = Side Holster Masking Tape Dispenser!


Painted! With 20 minutes to spare on my 8 hr day!

All ready to go with the projection now!

After working until 5:30, the museum staff had about had enough, so it was time to call it a night. The interesting plot twist then came when I learned about the next day's plans...

I had originally planned to stay at a friend's house and come back to work on the projection in the morning. However, it quickly became apparent that the lighting in the gallery would not be set in place until Tuesday, and my piece depended on that lighting being set in order to function properly. On top of it, Saturday (the next day) was occupied by a massive street fair expo that draws 10,000 people and happens to be run by the museum staff, practically in their back yard! I would have had to arrive 4 hours early just to avoid the road blocks and get a parking spot (with a special permit and police dispensation!), and then be essentially in the museum alone as I worked with a piece I wouldn't really be able to do much with on account of the lighting...

Thinking better of this idea, the director and I hatched a plan for me to simply head back home for the weekend and come back on Tuesday as they figure out the lighting. And that's what I'll be doing! Heading up (at the crack of dawn once again) to work Tuesday, stay over with said friends that night, and then hang out until the opening on Wednesday night.

Which makes for quite a week! Add to those logistics my son's second birthday (today, Sunday), moving on Thursday after driving back from the opening (still packing! Ack!), 3 days on Long Island for a wedding next week, and then another installation the following weekend (that I'm still very much figuring out!) Should be quite a ride...

Regardless, this show is going to be fantastic! There's a ton of really amazing work, including holography, light sculpture, motorized fiber-optics, plenty of painting and photography, and other projection work!

I'm very excited! When next I post, you'll get to see the finished product and some shots of the opening! Wish me luck!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Starting to See the Light

At the end of the week I'll be heading up to Massachusetts to install for See the Light, a national juried exhibition of light based artwork at the Attleboro Arts Museum, opening 6/25/14. Those of you who made it out to Untitled at the Walsh Gallery of Seton Hall last year may recognize my projection negation piece UnKnowledge. For this show I will be installing it anew at the museum!

I've been diligently prepping, as I'll only have 2 days there to install (one day to paint and hang the piece and set up the projector, and one to calibrate the projection.), so there's little room to fudge any of the logistics.  It's a daunting task, but one I'm certainly up for. I feel like an olympic sprinter, truing to shave seconds off of each iteration - my first go-round with projection negation at the Walsh Gallery took nearly a month to install, and by the time I got to Gnomon I had it down to one week. Then Tryptich slid down to just over 3 days, and having done this particular piece before and having learned from each past installation, I'm confident I can rise to the task... as long as nothing breaks... [knocks furiously on wooden pedestal]

I've been priming boards, building pedestals - I'm pretty sure I'm about 2/3 artist, 1/3 pedestal craftsman by now - testing technology and gathering hardware. I'll also, for the first time, not be painting on the wall itself, but on a hangable board (though the imagery will still be painted in-situ).

As usual, here are some lovely process shots for you! More to come when I embark northward at the end of the week for install!

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recycling my FUSE: NOW! pedestal, but replacing the tiered top with a cover, and priming the circular board that will become the wall painting.

Ready to sand and paint!
Follow my progress to my next post here!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Exhibiting En Mass...

...Massachusetts, that is! 

Look out New England, here I come:

I'm happy to announce that I will be participating in my first museum group exhibition this month at the Attleboro Arts Museum in Attleboro, Mass this July! The show is called See the Light and features work that is concerned with or uses Light as a medium!

Join me for the opening: 6/25, 7-9pm!


Then, in the fall...

...I will be heading back up to Massachusetts to the Andover Newton Theological School for a solo exhibition in the Sarly Gallery (tentatively November through December). Andover Newton is our country's oldest graduate seminary, and, in fact, the nation's first graduate institution of any kind! I'm honored to enter somewhere at the intersection of this rich history and the school's forward looking thrust into the 21st century! 


And in the meantime...

I will also be unveiling a commissioned installation for Trinity United Church in Warren, NJ, as the featured Artist of the Month for July.

To accompany the exhibition, there will be an Artist Talk, a Contemplative Service centered around my work, and a Forum on Art and Faith to discuss contemporary issues of art and faith! 

  • Exhibition on view from 7/6 through 7/27
  • Artist Talk and Reception: 7/20 (immediately following 10:30 worship service)
  • Forum on Contemporary Issues of Art and Faith: 7/24, 7-9pm
  • Contemplative Service: 7/26, 6-7pm


As if that weren't enough excitement...

 you can still register for my upcoming classes:

Artist Statement Workshop - Collective Art Tank, 7/12
Continuing Ed Class on Art and Worship - Drew Theological School, 7/21

See my latest newsletter for a more detailed (and prettier) look at what's coming up!