Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Local Art Seen: Free Range Trials with Kathy McTavish and Cecilia Ramon

Global water currents mapped in the grass.
Sunday afternoon Kathy McTavish and Cecilia Ramon had two new exhibitions on display at The Barn in Wrenshall. If my facts are correct this is the first joint event by McTavish and Ramon since the 2012 collaboration called holy fool at Sacred Heart in Duluth.

Under threatening skies cars began arriving with numerous local notables gathering for the opening reception for the two non-traditional artists. Rebecca Krinke noted that some people drove here from the Twin Cities to see/experience this. Former DAI director Annie Dugan, Ken Bloom from the Tweed, Judge Dale Wolf, Emily Swanson from the Oldenburg House, David Beard from UMD and others were numbered among those who attended.

Cecilia Ramon's map detailing global water current flow patterns.
Kathy McTavish's digital multi-media experience had been set up in the basement of the barn, an audio-visual delirium of projected performing patterns. Is it random? Has this been created through code? Or is it a program of sorts that has been modified.

Kathy McTavish explained that the raw code, compressed code, is like poetry but it goes in many directions. In a sense it's an audio-visual alphabet.

In explaining her work McTavish provided a new understanding of the World Wide Web, comparing it to theater. In theater we have the visible part of the performance, what the audience sees. And then there is a backstage, or behind the curtain, where there is action but it is hidden from the audience. In a sense, code is what takes place backstage. What we experience -- from YouTube to text and graphics, hyperlinks and music -- are the front of stage results of what we do not see, the coding choreographed by the programmer, in this case the artist, Kathy McTavish.

I sat for a bit in the basement of the barn and attempted to capture in words the sense of being there, ineptly. The photos help contribute more effectively. Similar to her Chance display this past year at the Tweed, the context and textured surfaces gave a totally different feel to the display.

Audio Aural Visual
Shades of Grey
Patterns Morph
Mutate in Symmetrical
Asymetrical Designs
Yellow Brilliance
enters in
2-D Flat Screen Panels
yet the spheres move back
and then forward to create
perception of depth.
Now Blue/Black and White
cylindrical movement
Centering in Harmony.
Bells, Humming
Stretching sounds
slicing and shuffling
clicks, water droplets,
drumsticks clacking, tapping...

Cecilia Ramon's exhibition filled the upstairs portion of the barn, as well as a sundial and map of the world's oceanic currents "etched" in the lawn. (Photo at top of page.) Sundials have been used for centuries as a means of measuring time, and we were treated to an instructive presentation via Skype by a pair of experts on sundials from Italy, Silvano Roilo and Antonio Rovelli. In the presentation we learned what a sundial is, saw examples of different types of sundials from Renaissance times with examples from the Milano Cathedral, St. Petronio's Church in Bolgna, and other conceptions in Florence, Rome and elsewhere. 

Walking the line, an interactive lesson in oceanography.
Ramon's outdoor ocean current pattern served as a highly instructive interactive map. We were ushered into a line to walk along the path as she explained how the currents circulate Antarctica and flow up along the coasts and circle about the globe, sometimes close to the surface and other times deep down below. 

Here are more images from the Free Range Trials:

 Free Range Trials is a lab for artistic process and creative experimentation through the exhibition of work by Kathy McTavish and Cecila Ramon. The lab will be open daily between 2 and 5pm from August 26 through September 3. 

Related Links
A page of examples of sundials in Italy
A 2012 Response to Holy Fool 

Meantime art goes on all around you. Engage it.

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