Explorations: Live Hybrid Canvas

I thought it’d be a good idea to build a history of the live hybrid art process, where Shaun Friesen (visionary video artist) and my self collaborate on a analog to digital journey, total improvisational art installation, which shares the artist process, and encourages public interaction. The project is just in it’s infancy, this youtube video link is a bit of footage from our first live hybrid canvas installation. It took place in Fort Macleod, Alberta, at a family festival/workshop/electronica music celebration called, Inshala (www.inshala.com). We had no experimentation time prior to the festival, all we had was an idea and the tools to put it into motion. I could have never guessed what would become of this idea, we only had the courage to try it out and use our technical know how and artistic verve to steer us through the ocean of unknowing that lie ahead. The structure was made from 3 recycled plastic sheets that were intended for IKEA picture frames, taped together and holes delicately drilled into the brittle plastic, then duct taped to adequate strength, though I use adequate lightly. From here ropes and carabiners were used to hold the plastic sheets up form poles, then a white sheet was put behind the plastic where the projector unit would project images from the backside, while I was painting on the front, which is the side you see in the video.

I began with brushes, very delicate, as the duct tape was just enough to keep the screen in place, as the night progressed than I began using my fingers, hands and various tools I had in my kit. The rule of thumb for any art installation is to bring adequate tools for any job, and in my line of work anything can come up, so you adapt and make things work.

There are no rules here, just solutions, and when it is something you love doing, no obstacle seems to big. When we performed at Inshala we had no pre-determined system, the system was the process, soon I was painting and Shaun was taking samples of the painting with a digital device, then putting that into programs on his computer and either using animation techniques or imaging software to construct a digital trail of the painting session. After painting for an hour or so, once the sun sank behind the horizon, the projections started to appear, Shaun and I looked at each other in astonishment, the idea was born. Soon festival goers themselves were interacting, which I had not even considered until a young man, probably all of 9, named Jonathon said to me, “Hey can I paint? I am an artist”.

I handed him a brush, no instructions, and stood back in amazement. Another fellow who had been watching for a couple hours came up to me and I could see in his eyes that he wanted to try it out. He stepped in front of the screen and in under 30 seconds this individual was lost in a painted universe. I took a big step back and watched this man nearly push through the screen. I soon walked up to him and he looked at me with these eyes that I know well, the eyes one gets when they are in creative flow, when ego lets go, and inspiration becomes kinetic, a beautiful moment. The man later came back and told me about his experience, it was a powerful exchange. In all about 8 people contributed to the live hybrid media, maybe 10, and each one of those individuals, ranging from 10 up to 40 something, walked away with an incredible experience, fully charged, inspired. So an idea is born, where will it go, I will let you know, our next installation is during the daytime, so we need to prepare and figure out how the process will work, tap the resourcefulness of our nature, that’s what you do, make it work, the impossible is possible, humans adapting, changing to the conditions presented to us, without fear, without hesitation. Until next my friends, thank you, Mahaloness. The adventure continues; join me for the ride.

-Shane

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