An Artist’s Perspective On: From Paper to Pixels

September 25th, 2013 by Rosie

Last week Infrared5 held the first annual ‘From Paper to Pixels’ (FP2P), an art show featuring ten pairings of traditional and new media artists, working collaboratively to create one-of-a-kind interactive experiences. I had the honor of experiencing the show as both an artist involved and an employee at Infrared5.

Several months ago, Rebecca Allen told me that she had an exciting idea for a show she wanted to curate. The potential for collaboration between traditional artists and developers seemed endless. Rebecca has a unique capacity to see potential in others, and I feel that FP2P was a perfect venue for that ability. I was thrilled to be paired with Aaron Artessa, our Art Director at Infrared5. Aaron and I have had many conversations about the experience of living with chronic pain, and I knew he would be uniquely qualified to work on this project with me. After only a brief exchange about how I think of my images, Aaron created an incredible interactive experience by rendering my figure as a touch screen experience. As you push the trigger points represented by triangles on the figure, energy expands revealing its path throughout the body. The more trigger points you engage, the more agitated the figure becomes; speaking to the cognitive effects of undergoing chronic pain.

vine footage of collaboration

What felt exciting about this collaboration was seeing my work shown in a very different way than I would’ve come to on my own. I am prone to getting too ‘in my head’ about my work, becoming at times very stubborn about how my work is ‘supposed to be’, which is extremely limiting. Participating in a collaboration has really opened my eyes to the possibilities of being less in control and rethinking how I approach things.

Fibers artist and longtime friend Sage Schmett also participated in this show. Schmett’s work consists of houses made entirely of paper and cardboard. The houses are filled with tiny cutouts taken from vintage magazines, creating rooms packed with tiny details, hinting at the lives of the people who might live in these dwellings. The piece chosen for FP2P is in the style of a Victorian-era house, cut in half as to reveal its insides, in the style of a dollhouse. The opulence of the sheer detail of the piece is astounding.

On arriving to the set up for the show, I was at first taken back by the direction taken by Schmett’s collaborator, Joe Farbrook. The dollhouse was completely obstructed by a five foot tall piece of plywood.  Farbrook created a method allowing the viewer to explore Schmett’s work from very close range. The viewer manipulates two knobs (controlled like an Etch A Sketch), controlling a camera that has been placed on a grid. Moving bilaterally, the viewer can participate in surveillance on the house. Viewers are invited to document observations using post-its, posted on the plywood barrier.

It may have seemed completely counter intuitive, almost outrageous, to obscure the entire house, but Farbrook knew the benefit of denying the viewer full access. The less information you give a viewer, the more you crave understanding. This piece, among others, show the value of collaboration. Giving up some control over your idea of what a piece ‘needs to be’ is terrifying, but ultimately extremely important. This type of growth is where the value of projects like From Paper to Pixels lies.

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