New work by digital artist Henry Gwiazda
Tuesday, December 4, 7:30 p.m.
Glasrud Auditorium, MSUM
Free and open to the public
Henry Gwiazda is a digital artist and professor of music composition at MSUM. His works have screened in festivals and galleries in New York, Paris, Madrid, Cairo, Amsterdam, Beijing, Berlin, Sao Paolo, Naples, Marseilles, Seoul, Damascus, Athens, Istanbul, Moscow and many others. In 2011, his work Claudia and Paul became the first piece of digital art to be acquired by Plains Art Museum. ARTSpulse asked a few questions about his practice ahead of next week’s debut of six new works. You can view more of his work on his Vimeo page.
My initial reaction to your works is that they function as paintings with the ability to change over time. Do you anticipate that the viewer will look at your work within the context of more traditional art works? If so, how do you play with that notion?
Actually I don’t view them that way. The visual quality is that of a stage set where a choreography takes place. I conceive my work as multimedia choreography.
What do you consider the ideal setting for your work? A gallery? A browser? Headphones?
I think the ideal situation is where a person can view/listen to the work in quiet. The size doesn’t matter, although I prefer a smaller presentation.
Natural sound plays a key role in your work. How do you determine how sound will be used in a given piece, and how do you gather it?
As one of the elements that move in the work, the sound is almost always presented by itself without other choreography ie. people moving, lights. The sound should be understandable as possibly realistic to the given setting and add it’s own narrative to the work. I use sounds from commercially available sound effects collections.
What tools/hardware/software do you use? How long does it take to create a piece?
I use Poser and Final Cut Pro. It takes about half a year to create and render one 7 min. work.
There’s an irony in your work that operates on our expectation that anything digital should be flashy and quick-moving, when in fact it’s much more contemplative. How does that irony intersect with your notion of shifting the viewer’s attention through subtle audio and visual cues?
I don’t think of digital work as flashy or quick-moving. I interpret that kind of work as superficial. I’m excited about how the digital medium can be used to tell us something about the world and ourselves. The sharp digital image, while not realistic, allows a precise isolation, a “freezing” of specific movements for our observation and reflection. And because the people depicted are digital, unlike film or video which use real humans, we don’t identify with them. It’s that distance that allows the viewer, I think, to think about and view what they are observing in a more reflective way.
What is possible in the digital medium that isn’t possible in other mediums? And, what are some shortcomings of digital media compared to other media?
This is the first time in our history where multimedia work can be done by one person. The digital medium allows me to create all the artistic elements in a work; lighting, sound, choreography, etc. if I choose to. Until computers, a multimedia work would involve a physical space with a number of collaborators and probably not enough time for experimentation that would result in work that would be truly progressive.