I remember first hearing about Second Life, the online virtual world that was a big deal for its time and, in digital technology terms, was an eon ago. Friends told me about virtual art galleries where you could experience art just like at a museum. On my first visit, the shortcomings of virtual reality were real and evident. The missing ingredient was the real, the tangible, the actual “thing” that we experience as art. Paintings are real things, with an aura of spiritual expression that reverberates through time from the cave paintings at Lascaux to the shamanic manifestations of Jackson Pollock. I remember thinking the Second Life gallery held the glimmer of a good idea but it needed refinement and sophistication. I’m working on an advancement that integrates the virtual with the material, with the reality of a beautiful painting merged with the experience of music, poetry and the artist’s voice. I offer a chance to experience an immersion in process and product, listening to the artist’s own voice, within an ambient sound environment, while viewing art in a gallery setting. In the gallery, with the works hung on the walls, the visitor will step towards a painting, scan a QR code and with their mobile device listen to the sound/poem that accompanies the painting. Each painting in the gallery has its own poem and soundscape which, when experienced, creates a deep, immersive envelope that intensifies the effect of the artwork. As a complement to the interactive art encounter, the visitor can watch abstract animations (LINK to a sample) based on the art and poetry as well as take home a boxed set of the archival prints of the art, along with the accompanying poems. A short video summary is below.

 EXTENDED DESCRIPTION: For now, this effort is just titled, “THE LOCKSMITH’S DILEMMA,” which relates to an image/poetry sequence that was the original impetus for this effort. As it gets nearer to completion, I may make a few changes.

The most concise version of the project is an exhibit of my paintings with accompanying poetry. The gallery space will have QR code triggers for each of the paintings, that when read by a mobile device, will play audio clips of poem/soundscapes authored by me. The art and the poetry complement each other, the words describing the vision and the images illustrating the poetry. A boxed set of the images, with the poems, will be available for purchase. To enhance the multi-sensory effect, I’m creating animated poems, using abstract variations of the painted imagery, that will play in an adjoining venue.

This isn’t like the virtual galleries that have been put online before. This will be a physical site of real, exhibition quality art, with poetic readings, by me, that open up for the visitor the inner workings of my imagination, so they can gain a better sense of the thoughts and feelings used in the creation of the images.

What I offer the visitor is a previously unexplored path of poetic meaning, an inter-disciplinary exhibition event that incorporates, art, poetry, video and publishing, an integrated, holistic exploration of the inner worlds of experience only available through creative expression, with digital and traditional media complementing each other. All the elements, virtual and material, are integrated together in an open ended adventure into the symbolic realm of the visual poetry. Through collaboration, similar ideas have been tried before, this event will be singularly different in that all the work has one creative mind at the controls, me, which allows the experience to have a clearer focal point, not encumbered by the sense of many hands for one art. 

The overall exhibit space will present paintings, poetry, video/animation, publishing, music and performance. Staged in a conventional gallery space, the visitor will be equipped with a hand held mobile device and earphones or ear buds. He or she will enter the gallery and ambient sounds will come through the ear buds. When the visitor walks up close to one of the paintings, they can scan the painting’s QR code and an audio clip will play of me reading one of my poems within a self-authored music/soundscape. Each painting will have a triggered audio track. The combination of the poetry, music and painting will invite an understanding of the conscious and sub-conscious intentions of the combined work. 

In an adjacent theater space, the visitor can enjoy an anthology of the animated poems, with a moving interpretation of the art and the poetry, also created by me. This complementary project almost completes the experience, with a compilation of the printed art and poetry available in a boxed set, folio style to take with them when they leave. 

This combination of forms, all focused within a common aesthetic intention will achieve an extension of artistic intention rarely achieved and never before accomplished with this combination of genres and media. 

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Video Script:

As an artist, I’ve worked with a wide variety of media and I’ve long dreamed about integrating all that I know to create a singular experience, one that explores the archetypal realm of meaning that we all share, the joy and sorrow, beauty and mystery of our inner world, presented as visual and poetic metaphor. To best accomplish this, I plan a multi-threaded and multi-layered event that will engage multiple senses, not just the perceptual but the intellectual, emotional and intuitive as well, weaving them all together to create a rich tapestry of experience unlike anything done before.

Galleries occupy a special sphere in our culture, an almost sanctified space where we share aesthetic experience. This is where we start, a conventional art gallery. My recent paintings will be mounted on the walls, presented in a way familiar to gallery goers, a single large room where the visitors could walk to each image, in turn, and experience it as you or they might expect. A major difference in the presentation is that each visitor will have with them a mobile device that when triggered, will offer specific audio clips at specific places in the gallery. Each device has a QR scanner and audio capability, including ear buds. Upon entry to the gallery, ambient audio begins, as to set the stage for the experience. Visitors step forward to see each work and read the title card fixed alongside the painting, each card contains the usual brief descriptors as well as instructions to scan the QR code at the bottom of the card. When the code is scanned, an audio clip plays of the poem that complements the image, thereby intensifying the immersive quality of the visual experience, inviting the visitor into a more meditative understanding of the layers of meaning that the painting holds.

To complement the multimedia experience, in a small theater, alongside the main gallery, an anthology of the animated poems plays, either as a loop or run periodically at specified times.

In the center of the gallery, or perhaps along an adjacent wall, the visitor finds a boxed set of images and the poems that accompany them. They can purchase one of these to take home with them as a reminder of the experience. 

The final effect will be an aesthetic outcome that transcends the parameters of the normal gallery/museum visit, connecting the visitor through traditional and virtual media, to an inner landscape of meaning rarely, if ever, achieved in an artist’s presentation of their work.