Aerial view of the Dowagiac campus

SMC sings along with looped video

10/13/2014 - 3pm
Attendees at public reception

A public reception Oct. 9 for two new installations in the Southwestern Michigan College Art Gallery was dark and interactive.

The front gallery showcases a three-channel DVD projection of the anonymous YouTube channel “Perceptual Ballads.”

The rear gallery features porcelain and video work by Chicago-based artist Patrick “Q” Quilao. This exhibit lasts until Oct. 30.

“He wanted to be with us, but he’s working on a project in Los Angeles,” said SMC Visual and Performing Arts Chairman Marc Dombrosky.

Thomas Willis, the artist responsible for the music videos, is based in Boston.

Perceptual Ballads “is meant to bridge forms of media, methods of exhibition and types of artistic industries. It is a subtle, yet sharp and humorous, critique that has the possibility of being undermined if ownership is involved. So I was thinking for the conceptual integrity of the work that it would be stronger if my name wasn’t attached to the exhibition. I’m definitely okay if my name … is shared via word-of-mouth to anyone who asks.”

The gallery is in room 108 of the Dale A. Lyons Building on the Dowagiac campus.

Hours are Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Art receptions and the gallery are open to visitors at no cost.

Quilao’s “I Miss You,” is a 27-piece porcelain animation and looped DVD projection.

“One element is the work on the wall,” Dombrosky said, “which is the series of delicate hollow porcelains made from molds of BlackBerry phones with images drawn on them. They correspond to the endless loop of the spoken phrase ‘I miss you.’ The piece was made on the occasion of losing both his parents and his grandmother. The idea is BlackBerrys are somewhat antiquated already” by the pace at which technology advances. “Glazing an object is to talk about that loss and inability to really communicate.”

Dombrosky knows both artists from when he lived in Las Vegas.

“They both use in their works the idea of looped video,” Dombrosky said. “Q uses it to build empathy and to create a closed circuit to draw you into this conversation he’s not able to have with his mother, grandmother and father, sealing it to keep it alive in some ways. Thomas uses the loop for a very different function. I thought of it as like getting a song stuck in your head.”

Willis went to museums and gallery shows and photographed them on his cellphone. Back at his studio he matched video to songs which somehow respond to or reflect the pieces.

“We decided we would work together to make a piece to contribute somewhat anonymously to this YouTube channel,” Dombrosky said.

Inspired by the 1991 action comedy film “Hudson Hawk,” starring Bruce Willis as an ex-cat burglar and partner Danny Aiello as Tommy Five Tone, it uses a recurring song device.
“They sing songs concurrently, but separately,” Dombrosky said. “They’re both small-time crooks pursued by the Mafia, the CIA and an evil couple trying to get the plans and assemble a set of crystals which will allow them to make one of Leonardo da Vinci’s devices that will transmute lead into gold. They go off on their own ways to such classics as Bing Crosby’s ‘Swinging on a Star’ and Paul Anka’s ‘Side by Side.’ “We’re going to try Thomas’ practice and Hudson Hawk’s practice and try them together with Whitney Houston’s ‘The Greatest Love of All.’ When Whitney starts singing, we start singing.’ ”

Upcoming in the gallery: November, Shanna Shearer and Mikey Henderberg: New Paintings and Collage; December, fall semester student exhibition; January, Ceramics Invitational curated by Sherrie Styx; February, Laura Boyce: At a Loss for Words; March, Ashley Fries and Rising Voices; and April, spring semester student exhibition.