Monday, September 27, 2010
Encountering Space exhibit at DMA creatively uses film, dance, architecture
How do you experience and interpret the space around you? This hands-on exhibit is a must-see.
DALLAS In its second installation, the Center for Creative Connections (C3) delivers Encountering Space, an exhibit featuring pieces from the Dallas Museum of Art's collection, plus dance, film, photography, and more.
Upon entering the exhibit hall, one thing is immediately evident: This installation is to be experienced like none other in the museum. Clip boards hang with pencils and questions like, “What does this piece of art mean to you?” and, “How does it make you feel?” Answers range from “scary,” to a beautiful Arabic saying, to a picture of a pregnant woman.
The C3 asks the visitor to “…see art in a new way,” and that we did.
For the grand opening, students from Booker T. Washington performed an “improv jam.” Approximately 15 students – three male and 12 female – swirled on their toes and fell to the ground, then crawled over each other in an attempt to ferret out their own space. All the while, their instructor droned on with instructions for how they should next interpret the spaces around them. They were asked to work in pairs, then to keep both feet off the ground, simultaneously – at some stages, dancers were swooshed off their feet only to be redeposited on their heads or hands.
Behind the dancing, a row of shiny old paint cans hung in front of large tables with scissors and glue. The cans held wires and other baubles with which to decorate a piece of cardboard. Visitors were invited to leave their works of art on display on the shelves above where the raw materials were dispensed.
Tech room: architect as artist
Further into the recesses of the center were a reading room, a tech room, and an office. The reading room regularly offers story time to youngsters. The tech room housed several visiting artists during the day. Brad Bell, assistant professor of architecture at UTA, brought along almost 20 designs that were created with no human interaction – other than the pressing of a few buttons on a computer screen. It’s called “digital fabrication,” and many classrooms across the country are now using this technology. Hit “print” and a combination of glue and powder creates the three dimensional model.
Tech room: photographer as artist
A few hours later, the tech room was transformed again, this time into a movie den. A feature film played on the overhead screen while director Romie Faienza was on hand to answer questions and instruct wannabes how to film a challenging scene. She has chosen: four people at a table. “Tarantino is a master at table scenes … Remember the first scene of Reservoir Dogs?” she asked.
Faienza earned her MA in filmmaking at the London Film School. Today, Faienza tells the visitors that shooting people sitting at a table is one of the most challenging things a filmmaker can do. Yet, at the same time, she wants to encourage all of us to do so. Digital cameras lay out for the taking.
When asked if she thinks digital video is going to replace film, she answers succinctly, “I don’t.” She added, “The technology isn’t there yet.” The multiple formats of DV and players in the world make digital unreliable and greatly reduces the quality. Film trumps it, at least for now, she says: “I can send a can of film anywhere and they’ll be able to project it.”
Down at the visitor’s entrance, a tour of the galleries took us to several examples of space in art. Michelle Nelson, DMA manager of teaching in the community, stopped at "The Fountain of Vaucluse" as an example of “traditional, realistic, deep space.” In the Pacific Islands, she pointed out a monkey head on a cross bow, telling us this as an example of “sacred space.” Finally, we toured the Wendy and Emery Reeves Collection on level three, which Nelson calls, “a space within a space.”
The DMA and C3 have put time and energy into this second installation and is worth a visit – or two.
Encountering Space is open from September 25, 2010 until August 31, 2012. Students with a current school ID pay $5, adults $10, seniors over 65 $7. Museum members (whose regular memberships start at $75) can park underground for free during museum hours and also do not have to pay to enter.
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