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Collecting MadVideos -- The Drawing of Ghosts/Horror Vacui

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At the end of September, a multimedia art installation titled The Drawing of Ghosts/Horror Vacui took over a small gallery in the lower level of the Overture Center. Combining lighting, music, photography, participatory video and sound, and computer animated videos, the exhibit is the work of eight artists who collaborated to create a multi-sensory response to its eponymous pair of poems.

Lasting for a mere week, this interactive installation was directed by Corinne Heath, a dance and theater choreographer and instructor who is currently focusing on computer animation. "I've been making dance videos in the last few years," she says, "and I was interested in showing this work in an exhibit." Ultimately, Heath conspired with seven other artists and created a show seeking to combine elements of both theater and museums.

The exhibit started with a pair of poems -- The Drawing of Ghosts and Horror Vacui -- by the Chicago-based Eric Prendergast. Addressing the dimensions of emptiness, these poems served as the foundation for the multimedia works that unified the installation. Two short computer-animated videos were provided by Heath and Joan Wildman, a UW emeritus professor of jazz studies, respectively titled black/white/coloured and REUNION. Layering along with these works of word and pixels were photographs by JoAnna Been, musical compositions by Wildman and Jane Reynolds, a voice and sound component by Buzz Kemper and Steve Braunginn (a contributor to Isthmus), and lighting by John Frautschy. "You will become a part of this haunting theatrical exhibit," they promised at the outset of autumn, "set in the mood of Halloween."

Heath explains how the installation placed a viewer/participant on center-stage. "The space is different when you work with computer animations," she says. "The concept for this was to place people on stage, where they could experience the exhibit in three dimensions. Wherever you stood, you could see, hear, and experience different things."

Though The Drawing of Ghosts/Horror Vacui has been gone for over a month now, it lives on via its discrete components available for consumption online, as well as in a walk-through video of the exhibit created by Heath. "This video put it all together," she explains, and was inspired by similar clips created by museums worldwide looking to share their treasures with persons not able to visit in person.

This five-minute walk-through video tour of the installation follows.

Along with the poems, the two animations featured in the exhibit are also available online for viewing -- black/white/colored by Heath and REUNION by Wildman -- as well as explanations of its lighting, sound, and voice components. "What we wanted was for people to have a total experience," says Heath, who notes that they would like to try something similar again.

"There's nothing in the works now, but it was a very good template," she explains. "We liked what happened, and got a lot of feedback. If we get a chance we would like to do it again."

If you have a video about Madison or by Madisonians, please consider adding it to the Isthmus YouTube group or send a message.

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