Digital storytelling to be a feature at IMPACT13

It isn’t common for a reviewer to step into an installation of a new piece. It’s an event that is reserved for an artist and their crew to finalize a work in often a most tedious afternoon. It is taking all the beauty and frustration in building the piece and resolving it through usually difficult means (great art is often ambitious) into something made for an audience.

Building art is a multi-step process. Coming up with a great idea is what makes someone creative. Committing enough to that idea to go through the process of sourcing the material, producing the media, and then merging all of these together is what makes someone a maker. The final bit: the installation into a public space where the work sits not just in the imagination or studio of the artist, but provides comment on some feature of our modern existence thereby turning itself into the commentary – this is art.

I was invited today to join emerging media artist Dwight Storring to the installation of his new digital story, Messages ::: From Generation to Generation (Facebook invite) – a part of IMPACT13 (an international theatre festival in Kitchener Ontario). These rare pre-show moments have none of the intimacy of experiencing the work as pure audience, and all of the grit of watching the final pieces of a very complicated site-specific installation come to resolution.

In this particular part of the process, Canadian artist Gareth Lichty was there to assist with the installation. Like many other aspects of the arts, collaboration and assistance in some of these more challenging steps comes from artist peers.

Rum Runner Dwight Storring

Site specific installations require the artist to work with the features of a particular location. In this case, Storring was going to use the glass block at the Rum Runner front entrance as a projection surface.

Dwight Storring tracing paper screen

To build a proper projection surface, Storring chose to experiment with transparence – allowing the projection to not only be seen from the inside, but also be viewed from the outside of the Rum Runner. This led the artist to use tracing paper as his projection surface.

Semi transparent projection surface on glass block at the Rum Runner
The tracing paper provided a translucent surface that will capture the video on the inside. The block is still visible through the surface creating a back-projection viewable from outside. In this video installation, this textural element lends an eeriness and softness to the projection. The images emerge in an almost 3D essence, building empathy and humanization of the storytellers through slow-motion portraits and the intense scenes included in the story.

Projector box

This box was manufactured out of plywood to hold the projector and other necessary components for the installation. The box is large enough to contain a sitting person and was to be installed high enough to place the equipment out of reach of any passerby.

Canadian artist, and experienced installer Gareth Lichty orchestrates the installation of the large projector box over a story from the landing level.

Lichty orchestrates the installation of the large projector box several feet over the landing level on the stair case leading down to the Rum Runner.

Storring and Lichty install
Storring is holding the box against the wall as Lichty drills it into the concrete behind the plaster. Lichty discovered during the installation that there are no studs in this section of the wall. By Lichty’s estimations, the box could easily hold at least 150 lbs and stay safely secured to the wall.

Ladder perspective

Rather daunting heights in a stair-filled location. This installation was tediously overhead. Notice: one ladder is against the wall. The other is positioned partly on a stair. Despite this difficult location, the installation was conducted in perfect safety.

A beautifully projected image with a screen that allows it to transfer not only to the outside, but also onto the brick in the entrance directly across from the glass block wall. This replication of an image that changes with the surface is reminiscent of the nature of storytelling - the story may stay true to the original concept but reveals new texture through the person doing the telling.

A beautifully projected image with a screen that allows it to transfer not only to the outdoor side of the glass block, but also onto the brick in the entrance directly across from the glass block wall. This replication of an image that changes with the surface is reminiscent of the nature of storytelling – the story may stay true to the original concept but the telling throughout generations reveals new texture.

 

This is a highly relatable piece featuring the stories of refugees whose lives brought them into this community – and definitely worth seeing. Storring’s respect for the original tellers, and the profundity of their tales is deeply humanizing in this haunting display. Stop by the Rum Runner – if you watch it from the outside, you can see the projection through the glass block and on the brick across. From the inside, just look up as you walk down the stairs.

DATES: Sept. 24 to 29, 2013

RUNS: 24/7 throughout the IMPACT 13 Festival. For the full experience of sight and sound visit the landing at the entrance to the Rum Runner Pub during hours of operation.

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