By Kimberly Ilkowski Arts & Entertainment Editor
With a surge of energy, a sea of students, faculty and community members entered the College’s latest art exhibition, “Fluctuations,” where waves of attendees filled the room to the brim — only for them to recede in anticipation of the next tide of guests.
Showcasing ever-evolving artistic landscapes through faculty artwork, the College’s Art Gallery held an opening reception on Wednesday, Sept. 2, with an accompanying concert by Brooklyn-based jazz-fusion trio Moon Hooch.
This ebb and flow dynamic was the pivotal idea behind “Fluctuations,” highlighting the changing practices between analog and digital technologies as well as contemplative and interactive art experiences.
In conjunction with the College’s own academic theme this year of “change,” the gallery featured work by 14 faculty members including Anita Allyn, Josh Brilliant, Chung Chak, Dickie Cox, Belinda Haikes, Kenneth Kaplowitz, Kyle LoPinto, Elizabeth Mackie, William Nyman, JordanRathus, Philip Sanders, Marcia Taylor, Liselot van der Heijden and Mauro Zamora.
“As professors of the art at the College, these dedicated faculty members not only instruct students in art, they must be fully engaged with contemporary art and with their own art making practices,” Art Gallery Director Emily Croll quoted in a program.
The exhibition featured different mediums, including animation, digital photography, archival prints and video. Some faculty members looked beyond the canvas or T.V. screen and opted to construct objects from scratch. LoPinto’s “Long Hammer,” is a 94-inch creation of steel, foam and tape while Mackie’s “Whispering Mountains” is a floating cloud brought to life with tulle, chicken wire and audio.
Another intriguing facet to the gallery was Cox’s “Contact,” a mixed media installation that utilized interactive animation created with Processing, Syphon, electronics and human touch. When visitors puts their hand on the pedestal, the wall opposite of them lights up in a bullseye of neon colors.
The use of video was prevalent — some attendees waited for a chance to grab a pair of headphones and watch Rathus’ 16-minute long “No Comment” video, while others were drawn in by the subtle emotions on display in van der Heijden’s “Untitled (Study Face to Face)” single channel loop of a woman in a crowd.
While “Untitled” explores the idea of art looking back at its audience, a second video, “Homage to John Berger,” played next to it.
“The title is derived from John Berger, the renowned author of the famous project ‘Ways of Seeing,’ that raises questions about hidden ideologies in visual images and western art,” van der Heijden said.
Filmed at the Louvre in Paris, the side-by-side screenings offered an interesting insight.
“When I played the two works together I discovered unexpected connections between (them) — the female gaze staring back at the viewer and the stillness of the subject in relation to the moving crowds that surround it,” van der Heijden said. “The combination of the two works speaks to what connects the past and the present, and to what happens inside the video image and outside the image — in the gallery space where we, the audience, are located.”
Following the opening reception, members of the art community ventured to the Art and Interactive Multimedia Courtyard for an outdoor performance by Moon Hooch.
Comprised of Wenzl McGowen on saxophone and contrabass clarinet, Mike Wilbur on saxophone and vocals and James Muschler on drums, the trio launched into a power set of hypnotic dance jams.
The self-proclaimed “cave music” band formed in 2010 and gained popularity with impromptu performances at subway stops throughout New York City.
The band flawlessly fused bluesy riffs with electronic dance music beats that led everyone in the audience to feverishly anticipate what would be played next. Each song seemed to bleed into the next, blazing with vitality and unparalleled skill.
McGowen changed instruments throughout the night, going from tenor and baritone saxophone to an electronic wind instrument synthesizer that provided zany additions to the songs.
To begin and end their set, Moon Hooch utilized unconventional items to alter the sounds of their instruments, such as PVC tubes and traffic cones.
The unusual nature of their sound pulled students in and was a fitting way to end a night of celebrating the diverse advancements of art on display in the art gallery.