Stationed on opposite ends of the Art and Interactive Multimedia Building are two exhibits that both challenge convention and explore the creative capacity of space.
Space Invaders, a senior thesis exhibit, features the work of seven students, who contributed and combined different media and mediums to form a comprehensive address of designated space.
In the East Student Studio, the seven works are contained in the typical format expected of an art gallery — each piece is presented as a separate entity, defined by wall space and comfortable distances. The room, in comparison with its polar opposite — both in location in the building and in spirit — gives off a reserved, dignified yet nearly empty aura. There’s too much space. It’s sister exhibit, located in West Student Studio, however, violates the carefully constructed boundaries of the first exhibit. The works overlap, span the entire room and even in some cases, play off each other.
Katie Rossiter, fine arts major, resurrected a project originally created for her advance sculpture class and last year’s 4X4 exhibit. “String Theory,” which at first was intended to encourage viewers to interact with the piece, then made as “unapproachable as possible” for the 4×4 show, Rossiter said, now is used to invade everyone else’s work. In East Studio, the piece is a kaleidoscopic pattern in the corner of the room, achieved by the weaving of black string into randomly created patterns, she said. Though the process is “random,” the work appears to be carefully planned, as a mass of triangles that give the illusion of being three-dimensional. “String Theory,” expands into the other pieces in West Studio, like a spider web with ambition to ensnare the entire room.
Many of the pieces invaded the others in a similar manner. “Temporary Remnants” by Jessica Hauk, fine arts major, scattered magnified outlines of her thumbprint, made of sand and dirt, on the floor of the exhibit. The piece is intended to be affected by passerby, and within just a few minutes of the gallery’s opening, a few patrons had already accidentally stepped on a few of the finger- prints.
“It’s a temporary form of graffiti,” Hauk said. “It slowly gets rubbed back into the earth.” In East, just the stencil used to create the fingerprints is on display, encouraging no interaction.
Though “Oxideous,” by Spencer Denauski, senior digital arts major, consisted of an encased iPod and headphones in East, the 15-minute mix of distorted metal and electronica music filled West from speakers.
“Recursion” presented perhaps the most interesting contrast. In East, the piece used programming language called “processing” and OpenGL, graphics hardware, to project an infinitely looping image of whatever passes in front of the wall facing the set-up laptop. According to creator Katie McFarland, digital arts major, the piece senses the lightness and darkness around it, producing a pixilated image on the wall. The piece imitates the effect of mirror recursion, when two mirrors facing each other produce a seemingly infinite row of mirrors.
“It bridges audio and visual space,” she said.
The work here, however, is merely interacting with itself. In West, the work projects images based on the sound accompanying “Catastrophic Plight,” which is the sound of blood flowing in and out of the heart.
Ranna Chaudry, fine arts major, said her two graphs in West, represented by lines of string sewn onto a grid, show the magnitudes of the earthquakes in Haiti. Tied to one of the graphs is a syringe, which Chaudry said “represents hope for people who lost their lives.” The piece in East studio, which doesn’t interact with the other works, is a graph depicting an echocardiograph of someone dying.
Fine arts major Christine Rutowski’s “Repose” featured a small, framed sketch in East of a young woman asleep, which transformed into a larger charcoal depiction, unframed of the same girl in West. The piece achieves a more powerful sense of innocence and relaxation, as if the girl’s dress and limbs could span the entire exhibit.
“When you go up to it, you’re overwhelmed,” Chaudry said. ”It’s very tranquil, and very innocent.”
While digital arts major Kimberly McCauley’s “Seaside Heights” didn’t seem to interact with other works, it challenges preconceived notions in a different way. The series of eight pictures — four in each room — depict one of New Jersey’s popular locales during the winter, when “it’s completely dead,” McCauley said. The pictures, which show the location in the morning and night at in East and West studios, respectively, are a reaction to the misconceptions presented by MTV’s “Jersey Shore.”
“I wanted to show that it’s not like that,” she said. “It can be a really beautiful place.”
Space Invaders runs until Sept. 25.
Katie Brenzel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.