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Night Lights

SFUAD students illuminate Santa Fe with graphic art

April 18, 2012, 12:00 am

 On an unseasonably cold spring night, Santa Fe University of Art and Design students are busy cobbling together all manner of computers, projectors and speakers for a dress rehearsal of this year’s Outdoor Vision Festival—a free, outdoor celebration of interactive video installations. 

OVF takes place next Friday, April 27, and features the work of students in SFUAD’s moving image arts, graphic design, art and photography departments, in addition to guest pieces from Istanbul’s Bilgi University, the Santa Fe Complex, and new-media/tech outfits Redfish Group and Lumenscapes. OVF centers on new, interactive, “environmental” media—a concept SFUAD screenwriting professor Terry Borst, who is helping organize the event, is kind enough to explain.

Some installations, he says, will have sensors so that viewers can contribute to audio and visual aspects of the artwork. One potential idea: “passing out laser pointers or cell phones [from which] people can provide input of various kinds—whether it’s pointing the laser pointer at an image, pressing some keys on the cell phone [or] possibly even just playing around with an iPad and being able to control some of the visuals and some of the audio.”

One of the most rewarding aspects of last year’s debut OVF, Borst says, was watching parents bring their kids to experience a new kind of art. 

“Sometimes people think art is not terribly approachable—and certainly, when it’s in a museum space or a gallery space, sometimes it can be a little bit off-putting,” Borst says. “Here, it’s outdoors; you can touch it; you can run around; and it’s just incredible for everybody, regardless of what age you are.”

Participating students not only dream up the concepts for their installations, but also do all of the technical work (with faculty support). The result is a new, particularly for Santa Fe, concept of art: projecting images onto the landscape rather than interpreting a landscape on canvas.

“Doing a landscape in front of the Cathedral isn’t going away,” Borst says, when asked if OVF represents a transition in the local arts scene. But technology and art may fuse to an extent we haven’t yet experienced—and equalize, too, via OVF-style exhibitions that allow anyone with a smartphone to play a role in the artistic process.

“What’s really great is, in a sense, the technology gets returned back to artists, [and] they can really come up with creative and unique ideas that we’ve never seen before,” Borst says. And Santa Fe, with its access to national labs and organizations such as the Santa Fe Institute and the Santa Fe Complex (a partner in OVF), is in a unique position to take advantage of this new direction.

“Santa Fe definitely can be on the cutting edge of this,” Borst says. “It’s actually pretty amazing here in northern New Mexico. I think the talent that we have that combines art and technology is something we can really spearhead and take in some new directions.”

—Alexa Schirtzinger

Cover image projected by Ana Caro; photos by Corey Johnson.

Pablo Byrne and Miguel Martinez Cano’s interactive installation allows participants to digitally spray-paint onto a screen using an infrared light and a Wii-mote. The Wii-mote sees the infrared light and sends its position to the computer, which renders the spray-paint effect.
Jessica Minnich sets up a comfortable outdoor (yes, outdoor!) viewing area complete with armchair and AstroTurf.
Ben Smith projects lines that react to ambient sound onto some of the SFUAD art building’s many pillars.

Pablo Byrne demonstrates the versatility of his digital spray paint installation.

 Aldo Vidvio and Rodrigo Escumitla present a video for Queen’s famous “Bohemian Rhapsody.” The video is projected onto the boxes using a software that allows the user to select objects in 3-D space upon which the video displays.

Elliot Rogers’ beautifully rendered projection is mapped to a sculpture of his own creation. It also reacts to music. Neat.

 Robert Tucker (left) sets up his pillar projection, created using the generative programming language Processing, which allows designers and animators to create interactive imagery via coding.

Sandra Halpin’s “Hanging My Binary Out to Dry” is an interactive exhibit that combines real-world objects (the clothesline and the one-and-zero forms) with digital projections.

 Robert Tucker and Dae In Chung’s pillar projection is mapped to show only on specific faces of the pillars.







Alejandra Torres and Arnold Mateos’ “Your Face Here” is an interactive, motion-sensitive projection that randomizes every time a participant puts his or her face through the hole of the board, using a motion sensor attached to a tiny Apple computer.

Corey Johnson’s “Tactile Illuminations” create solid, tangible form by projecting hand-scratched and colored film through a fogscape.



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