Pixilerations Plays with our Wired World

Pixilerations Plays with our Wired World

“Could the wall be breathing?” wondered the small crowd in RISD’sSol Koffler Graduate Student Gallery. They were standing around a pillar swathed in white, ruffled cloth. It wasn’t exactly on the move, but it certainly wasn’tstill.

As it turns out, theplayful installation by Sophia Sobers MFA 13 DM uses stepper motors rigged beneath the fabric to create the eerily lifelike illusion.Breathing Columnis just one of many multimedia pieces unveiled at last Thursday’s opening reception ofPixilerations [v.9], the annual arts fringe festival sponsored by nonprofitFirstWorks. Through October 21, visitors to the show at RISD can get an additional eyeful of digital media at the Cohen Gallery in Brown University’sGranoff Center for the Creative Arts, along with spaces sprinkled throughout downtown Providence.

Other works by students in theDigital + Media program are no less energetic. Chinese artistDi Tang MFA 13 DM created The Dance of Roger Williams, a mechanical marionette that moves without the traditional aid of a hand. Instead, it whirs in response to a “city soundtrack of Providence,” which he recorded while making the daily trek from his apartment to school. Viewers were also dazzled by a looping video shot bySandor Bodo, a staff photographer at theProvidence Journal. It projects images of people riding elevators in cities such as Paris, Budapest and Milan.

“The goal ofPixilerations is to show really exciting works – what’s new in media art,” says FirstWorks founder and executive directorKathleen Pletcher.

The strong turnout for the opening was no surprise. In fact, ever since the show was born nine years ago in abandoned storefronts nestled in downtown Providence, organizers have witnessed an increasing hunger for multimedia from the general public. “There is an appetite for this,” says Pletcher, noting that the rise of technology and social media has fueled this trend.

Furthering Pletcher’s point, headlining artistMiwa Matreyek – known for mesmerizing works that integrate animation, live performance and video installationperformed last Friday in a crowded Granoff Center auditorium. And for the first time this year, organizers had no need to do a call for submissions to the show. “We’ve gotten interest from hundreds of artists across the world,” explainsPeter Bramante, managing director of FirstWorks.

Pletcher is already planning next year’s show [v.10], noting that FirstWorks will most likely organize a related symposium. No matter how muchPixilerations continues to grow, however, she says it will remain true to the FirstWorks mission of connecting diverse, inquisitive audiences to the magic and wonder of art.

“Our audience is a combination of people who are in the media arts world and those interested in discovering new things,” Pletcher says. “I hope [the show] will encourage conversations and connections.”–Abigail Crocker

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