News

October 22, 2008

Knee Deep & Risin’ Combines Art, Environment, and Technology

Exhibition by Jim Toia, director of Community-Based Teaching, runs Nov. 4 – Dec. 20

Knee Deep & Risin’, a multimedia exhibition by Jim Toia, director of the art department’s Community-Based Teaching program, and Noah Vawter, a doctoral student at MIT, will run Nov. 4 through Dec. 20 in the Grossman Gallery of the Williams Visual Arts Building.

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Related events are: a round-table discussion at 4:30 p.m. and an artist reception at 5:30 p.m., on Thursday, Nov. 20 in the Grossman Gallery; a brown bag lecture by Vawter at noon Friday, Nov. 21 in the Williams Center room 108; and a performance by dancers from the Lehigh Valley Performing Arts High School with choreography by Kimberly Maniscalco at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 5 – 6 in the Grossman Gallery. Gallery hours are10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For more information, contact the gallery at x5831.

Presented by the department of computer science, department of art, the Community-Based Teaching program, and the Lehigh Valley Performing Arts High School in Bethlehem, Knee Deep and Risin’ is an interdisciplinary project featuring live and recorded video and audio feeds from the banks of the Bushkill Creek and Delaware River. Images that simulate flood-like surroundings are activated as visitors trigger infrared sensors on rolling exhibition screens.

“Inside the gallery, the viewer will be confronted not only with projected images moving across their bodies and the wall, but also across five movable screens,” says Toia. “As screens are moved around, the videos change based on screen relationships. When the LVPA dancers perform, they will be dictating not only dance movement, but also video footage and sound, essentially ‘playing’ the installation as other viewers are encouraged to do at any other time.”

Chun Wai Liew, associate professor and head of computer science, and two of his students have been developing the software for this exhibit since June. Miguel Haruki Yamaguchi ’11 (Akashi, Japan), a computer science major, and Long L. Ho ’10 (Hanoi, Viet Nam), a double major in mathematics and computer science, have written code that allows video clips to be played in quick succession based upon response cues from other sources. They arranged more than 20 different clips of footage, shot and edited by Toia, into a quick response projection that will be displayed on the exhibition screens.

Toia says he has always been interested in the intersection of “art and circumstance, contingency and intent,” and he found that the Grossman Gallery, being located directly above the flooding Bushkill Creek, provided a perfect backdrop for combining visual and auditory experiences in one art exhibition. He is also excited about the unique interaction between art and viewer. “Giving permission, indeed, ownership of the work, over to the observer changes our relationship with art, making it less mysterious, but not less enthralling. Instead, our relationship becomes strengthened by such dynamic physical and emotive means.”

According to Toia, “Combining all these disciplines – art, science, engineering, and computer science – mimics our ever changing world in which all disciplines are becoming more and more integrated as mass media and information become more accessible and immediately deliverable to every square inch of the globe.”

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