Marginalia, Graduate Blog

The Big Show (Part 3): VIP Reception

Mike St. John

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We round out my 3-part Thesis coverage with the VIP reception. With the anticipation of opening over, the InterArts MFA class can kick back with faculty, curators, and close friends at the champagne reception. I want to focus on work from a few colleagues that shined at this event. [flickr id=”7131741319″ thumbnail=”medium” overlay=”true” size=”original” group=”” align=”none”]

I’ve spoken at length on the work of Michelle Graves, especially her piece Transgression Through Your Breath. The difference this time around is that you can see the actual piece! I could explain this work until my face turned purple, but with a few choice images, one can completely understand it. This image above is a breath sensor, a fancy piece of gadgetry by Graves that measures the force of a viewer’s breath as they blow through it. Certain phrases are triggered based on the exhale, phrases that align with the philosophies and findings posited by Graves.

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The given phrase ranges from Exist to Trigger Your Parasympathetic System in complexity. The projected text soon turns into a spotlight that travels across a graffiti-style text mural and lands on the exact written form of the phrase. The breath becomes word becomes light becomes word again. Transgression quickly became a favorite amongst the VIP crowd.

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Another crowd pleasing installation was Jenny Garnett’s On My Mark. Again, this work falls into the Mike-has-talked-a-lot-about-it-but-we-need-to-see-it category. And Garnett was indeed there and going strong in her regimented exercise routine. Two projectors covered the gym matting and the wall behind her as she moved through push-ups, kettle bell swings, mountain climbers, and sit-ups.

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Garnett would switch every thirty seconds into a barrage of new calisthenics or weight-lifting. All the while, her custom MaxMSP software tracked her movements by way of her sensor suit. Cameras picked up infrared lights studding her outfit, causing a projected mark on the wall or floor screens. Like graphite, the marks seemed to smudge and discolor as they accumulated over the entire workout.

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Like Graves, Garnett’s performance generated quite a bit of buzz. Inspiration, you could say. While everyone else held glasses of champagne or a plate of assorted finger foods, Garnett blazed through her workout, over and over, amassing streaks of spent movement as she did. It caused more than a few people to think about going to the gym…or even joining her on the mat. Many people asked if she would lead workout sessions, causing Garnett equal measures of laughter and groaning. This workout was hard enough for one artist, let alone a group of them!

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Despite the exertion of On My Mark, the VIP reception was a victory lap for the MFA exhibition as a whole. We had enough time to get rid of our rampant cases of Thesis Face and actually enjoy ourselves at our own show. People mingled. Business cards were exchanged. Laughter. Drinks. All good things to have at the end of a long semester of a long last year.

Raise your glass. A toast to finishing.

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The Big Show (Part 3): VIP Reception

[flickr id=”7131735459″ thumbnail=”medium” overlay=”true” size=”original” group=”” align=”none”] We round out my 3-part Thesis coverage with the VIP reception. With the anticipation of opening over, the InterArts MFA class can kick …

Interdisciplinary Arts & Media MFA Mike St. John, chadrikosuave@aol.com
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605