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An ‘Array’ of Art Installations Invade Deep Ellum


by Hady Mawajdeh and Dane Walters

Artist from across North Texas have come together to create art installations that will fill Deep Ellum’s Canton Hall and The Bomb Factory for an evening filled with music, arts performances and so much more.

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On Saturday, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra will immerse fans of classical and contemporary music with an Array of performing and visual arts. 

Array features national touring musicians collaborating with Dallas performance ensembles at The Bomb Factory. The evening also includes seven visual art installations created by North Texas artists. They’re on view next door at Canton Hall.

Art&Seek’s Jerome Weeks reported on the event’s performances for our Spotlight series on Thursday, so today we figured we’d give you a peek at the Array’s interactive installations.

First, a few thoughts from the art show’s curator, Erica Felicella. She says artists were able to dream, innovate and put their most ambitious ideas forward for this showcase because the DSO has been so supportive of the artists’ endeavors.

Erica Felicella - artist and curator of Array’s interactive installations. Photo: Hady Mawajdeh

Erica Felicella – artist and curator of Array’s interactive installations.
Photo: Hady Mawajdeh

“They’re really invested in the Dallas community,” says Felicella. “These artists are homegrown, and the faith they’ve put into these artists shows the growth that this city is going through. It also shows the recognition that these artists are starting to receive as skilled professionals.”

Also noteworthy: Array’s interactive installations focus on new media. All but one was crafted using digital technologies like virtual reality headsets, interactive sensors that allow the artwork to act and react to your body’s movements and video projections that surround audiences.

“The new media scene is really growing,” Felicella says. “It’s not the same scene we had three years ago. The city is starting to embrace new media on a deeper level. And the moving image is public. It’s a shared experience. And because it’s a relatively impermanent art form we think non-traditional museum and gallery goers will have a fun time interacting with these works.”

So without further ado, here are the new media artists who have contributed installations to Array:

‘Staring at the Sun’ – Carmen Menza and Mattheiu Brooks

Hi! My name’s Carmen Menza. I’m a visual artist, musician and composer. Hey, I’m Matt Brooks. I am a interdisciplinary/sculptor/coder artist.

Menza: The title of our work is ‘Staring At The Sun.’ And yes, I stole it from the title of a U2 song. My inspiration for  the physical portion of the work was a origami sculpture that looked like the sun. I wanted it to be large-scaled, so that we could project visuals onto it. Matt created all of the visuals. I gave him a look and feel, but he crafted them. he created everything in Unity, because wanted everything to be reacting in real time.

Brooks: For those who don’t know, Unity is a freely available game engine that has really powerful rendering capabilities that rival that of realistic film. So you can get a photo-realistic rendering in real time. That’s especially helpful in the interactive realm.

Anyway, I took my direction from Carmen. And in order to make it look like origami or even kaleidoscopically, in order to do that, I had to write code that ran on the camera. That code inverts itself to give a mirroring affect and react to what the audience member might be doing. There are also some fractal effects.

Menza: I hope people are wowed by this immersive experience. I want people to enter into the space and just kind of leave whatever else in their lives behind. I have created a custom soundtrack to go with the work I hope they can get lost in it.

Brooks: I want them to keep using it. I want them to not want to leave. That’s how I crafted it. I have made it so that there are so many new experiences, so every time that you interact with it you get a new experience.

‘Good Way Off’ – Sheryl Anaya

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Visual artist Sheryl Anaya has used the age-old tradition of weaving to craft an encompassing installation that features digital projections and an original score. Don’t wait, view the 360 video above to see her ethereal images and dreamlike soundscape.

‘ACCLAIM’ – Tramaine Townsend

I’m Tramaine Townsend. I am a visual artist. I make new media work like photography, design, film making and now virtual reality.

The name of the piece is ‘ACCLAIM.’ It’s based off of a previous work. That was more flat. The previous work was a more corporate-seeming self-help video. In it, there are a lot of people cheering and encouraging you. So for ‘ACCLAIM,’ I recreated that sort of vibe in VR. It has a total 360 application.

There isn’t exactly a narrative. It’s more of a working piece of art. I am trying to show the nature of today’s society. I want to show how we as a culture and as a humans use social media. We’re sort of yearning and wanting attention, that acclaim. We’re needing it at this point.  You want it from your Facebook or Instagram or whatever. And when you get it, it can feel like the greatest thing in the world to you. This piece takes that concept, amplifies it and projects it toward you.

What you’re actually seeing though is people clapping, cheering and being excited for you… but the world is being destroyed. It’s collapsing in front of you.

‘Between The Now’ – James Talambas

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James Talambas is known in North Texas for his sound art and installations. His newest work is a collaboration with the nationally recognized Dallas Street Choir. View the 360 video above to hear why he collaborated with the ensemble and to check out the awe- inspiring LED light show.

‘PARTIAL PERSONALITY’ – Eric Trich and Jordan Castilleja

I’m Eric Trich. I do mixed reality development and interactive installation artwork.  Jordan Castilleja. I’m a multimedia fabricator. I use computers and machines mixed with conventional methods of sculpting to create experiences.

Trich: We’ve collaborated for years. I used to own a gallery in the Design District (on Dragon Street), and he was the one who actually helped me build a lot of the different structures that we hung art on in the work space.

Castilleja: A lot of the projects that we’ve worked on in the past have been started with us just sitting together throwing crazy ideas at one another. It’s like, ‘What if we do this?’ or ‘What if we did that?’

Trich: So our piece is called ‘Partial Personality.’

Castilleja: It’s a computer numerical control (CNC) foam (throguh digital scanning and stuff) face covered in resin and it’s fun.

Trich: Though it’s a digital work, I think it’s more analog. We’re using two live feeds from cameras to project two people’s faces on to the foam face. And while it is projection mapped, a lot of the detail comes directly from people’s faces lining up over one another. It kinds of gives people the surreal experience of seeing each other’s faces on their’s. I think that’s an interesting concept. It’s like you and someone else as the same person.

Castilleja: It’s playful and fun to try and align one’s face with another. Sometimes there are eyeballs where mouths are supposed to be. But on a more serious note, I think it shines a light on the vanity of digital identification.

‘Happy Thoughts’ – Alejandra Camargo

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Alejandra Camargo’s installation has personal connections to her origins and her personal identity. View the 360 video above to see the graphic designers interactive installation. You’ll also learn what she hopes that you’ll take away from the work.

‘Life Support’ – Jeremy McKane

Hey! I’m Jeremy McKane. And I’m the creator of ‘Life Support,’ which is an installation that you can see at Array. ‘Life Support’ is an installation that I hope will give people some sort of idea about what’s happening in our oceans. You know the oceans are really important, because every second of breath that we’re breathing right now actually comes from the oceans. Phytoplankton and coccolithophores will use photosynthesis and they just all bump up next to one another and they make this beautiful, breathable air! But all of those things are at risk. And they’re at risk, because of our passive actions.

Don’t get me wrong, we don’t do this on purpose. We go to Starbucks or we go to a coffee shop and we ask for coffee. We don’t ask for a plastic-lined paper cup. We don’t ask for a plastic top. We came for coffee. And that stuff ends up in the ocean – not on a garbage island, that’s not real – but it ends up being eaten by the fish and then we eat them and that’s not good for anyone. That’s just one of the problems I hope they investigate after looking at ‘Life Support.’

The actual art work is made using a piece of plastic. In fact, it’s a plastic fishing container. It’s from Japan. It’s been at sea – just floating out there – for approximately seven years. We’ve actually traced it back to it’s origins. The container comes from Miyako Fisheries Corporation in Japan. On March 11, 2011, a massive tsunami hit Japan. This piece was found in Hawaii several years later. And I use an overhead projector to shoot down images with in it. How do you show people the problems that garbage is causing in the ocean? Find a piece of ocean garbage and project images like whales swimming in the ocean onto it.

Something to think about: when we throw trash in the garbage can, we say, ‘I threw it away.” But does “away” really exist?

‘Cube Sound (aka Light Play) – Darcy Neal

Hello! My name’s Darcy Neal. I run Lady Brain Studios and that’s sort of the name for all of the artwork that I create. I mostly create interactive LED art, but also teach a series of workshops that encourage young girls to get involved in electronics. I want to them to consider getting into the engineering field.

I’m a self-taught engineer. I live in Portland, Oregon and I’ve been working for a synthesizer company. I helped to design circuit boards.

Anyway, the piece that I have created is called ‘Cube Sound.’ I call it ‘Light Play’ though. It’s a interactive lighting wall that is meant for people to come up to and play with. It has vibration sensors in it, so you can touch each of the keys and it will play a musical note, light up and respond to your touch. It’s kind of meant as a whimsical playful piece that encourages the user to interact with the art.

It’s very important to me that people interact with the work. It plays with the curiosity of the audience. The piece automatically lights up. It’s sort of has a default mode, but that’s just to grab the audiences attention. I’ve always been interested in the cross pollination of the sensors.  you know, how does the human touch work with the sounds that we hear? I’d like to explore all the senses at once.

These artists’ descriptions have been edited for brevity and clarity.

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