The mission of the Roman J. Witt Residency Program is to support the production of new interdisciplinary work with assistance from the School of Art & Design community. The program awards up to two residencies per academic year for a visiting artist/designer to work at the school to develop a new work in collaboration with students and faculty. The intersection with the School may include workshops, critiques, and lectures. A centerpiece of the residency is the open studio, a centrally located studio space that is part of the school’s main gallery where the resident carries out work in a public domain. The residency is expected to culminate in the realization of the proposed work, as well as a presentation that summarizes the process and work accomplished.
For the past seven years, artist/photographer Jennifer Karady has worked with American veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to create staged narrative photographs that depict their individual stories and reveal their difficulties in adjusting to civilian life. After extensive interviews and a lengthy planning process, Karady collaborates with the veteran to restage a chosen moment or memory from war within the safe space of their everyday environment, often surrounded by family, friends and home.
The collision between or collapse of the soldier’s world and the civilian world enables the viewer to glimpse a fragment of what is going on in the individual soldier’s mind, evokes the psychology of life after war and the challenges that adjustment to the home front entails. The process of making the photograph is conceptually inspired by a form of cognitive behavioral therapy and is intended to be helpful for the veteran.
The multi-layered process of making each photograph takes between one and three months, and culminates in a highly choreographed installation/event, cinematic in scale. To maintain the truthfulness of the staged moment and the authenticity of the veteran subject's participation, there is no digital manipulation. Each large-scale color photograph is accompanied by text, based on audio recordings, that consists of the veteran recounting his/her story in his/her own words.
The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have impacted, and continue to impact, virtually every aspect of American life and culture. While the wars have attracted vast media coverage, there has been relatively little discussion about returning veterans when one considers the lingering challenges that veterans face in becoming civilians again and the impact of this on millions of families throughout the country. By stimulating community awareness through a residency and exhibition on campus, as well as interaction with local veterans organizations, the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design at the University of Michigan will foster public dialogue around an important social issue.
With the help of the University of Michigan community and students, Karady will create new work in collaboration with veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan as part of a larger, critically acclaimed national project, Soldiers’ Stories from Iraq and Afghanistan. Stamps students will be involved in the process and production of two new “staged narrative photographs” with sound installation and in the design of a “Listening Area” to include the stories of additional veterans.
Though the end products are large-scale color photographs with sound installation, the process of and concepts behind making the photographs draw from many disciplines. By combining documentary story seeking, fine art photography, narrative tableaux painting, performance and cognitive behavioral therapy/psychology concepts, Karady has developed a detail-oriented, personal approach to portraiture. This project will contribute to, and expand upon, the discourse around contemporary artistic practice as it relates to portraiture, staged photography, performance, documentary methodology and narrative form (visual, sound and text). Students will learn both technically and conceptually from this project, which will add to ongoing dialogue on campus about art’s ability to impact change for both an individual and society.
Jennifer Karady is an artist/photographer who works with real people to dramatize their stories through narrative, metaphorical, and allegorical techniques. Based in Brooklyn, New York, Karady has exhibited widely across the United States. She received her BA in Literature and Society from Brown University and her MFA in Studio Art from Rutgers University. Recently, Karady has been working with American veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to create staged narrative photographs that both depict their individual stories and reveal their difficulties in adjusting to civilian life. Soldiers' Stories from Iraq and Afghanistan has been exhibited at SF Camerawork in San Francisco, the Myhren Gallery at the University of Denver, CEPA Gallery in Buffalo, The Berman Museum at Ursinus College and continues to travel the country. The project has been featured in The New York Times, on National Public Radio, in Kunstbeeld (Netherlands), and reviewed in Frieze and in books such as Art and Agenda, 100 New York Photographers, and Out of Rubble. Her work is in the permanent collections of San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Albright Knox Gallery. Karady’s numerous residencies and awards include Yaddo, The MacDowell Colony, Puffin Foundation, Brooklyn Arts Council, The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, The Atlantic Center for the Arts and The Blue Mountain Center.
She is increasingly committed to integrating collaborative methodology into artistic practice and to creating socially engaged work.
For more info on the project, go to jenniferkarady.com
Digital Artists, Fall 2012
In Fall 2012, renowned digital artists Paul Kaiser, Marc Downie, and Shelley Eshkar of the OpenEndedGroup are coming to A&D as Witt Fellows. During their residency here they will be creating an experimental hybrid digital/documentary artwork to offer new ways for people to explore the public and private spaces of their environment.
With the help of the U-M and Ann Arbor community, OpenEndedGroup will map, evoke, and reflect a cross-section of the complex urban space of Detroit, a rapidly contracting city that teeters between its grand industrial past and a wide-open future.
The project has its origins in an OpenEndedGroup piece commissioned last year by the University of Michigan entitled plant— an immersive 3D exploration of the huge factory ruins of the long-abandoned Packard Plant in Detroit. This project expanded the group’s conception of what maps can do, a conception further enlarged by their concurrent software development for visualizing very large public data-sets (funded in 2011 by the NSF).
The new project envisions an immersive mapping environment that visualizes, situates, and contextualizes diverse layers of information with new precision, while also evoking the past and present individual lives of those who have occupied some of the spaces thus surveyed.
It is a new kind of artwork that will enlarge both the subject and the range of participants and audiences. Though undeniably an artists' project in conception, it will draw upon the contributions of others -- designers, photographers, researchers, audio engineers, and interview subjects; and thus involve the participation not only of faculty and students in Ann Arbor but also of citizens in Detroit.
In spirit, the project would be one of invention and discovery since nothing quite like this has been created before. Their hope is that everyone involved would contribute their ideas and insights rather than simply executing a fixed plan that they determine in advance.
Project outcomes include a multi-screen 3D installation, a high-definition 3D film, and an interactive online application that draws on the new rendering potential of WebGL, which represents the current frontier of online possibilities.
plant: Excerpts from plant, a 3D installation for two screens, commissioned by the Institute for Humanities at the University Michigan. The subject is the ruins of the Packard Plant in Detroit.
OpenEndedGroup comprises three digital artists — Marc Downie, Shelley Eshkar, and Paul Kaiser — whose pioneering approach to digital art frequently combines three signature elements: non-photorealistic 3D rendering; the incorporation of body movement by motion-capture and other means; and the autonomy of artworks directed or assisted by artificial intelligence. They create their work by means of their own extensive software platform, Field, which they have released as open source and which has received support from the Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Science Foundation.
Selected artworks include:
Stage: BIPED (1999), projections for dance by Merce Cunningham, in continuous repertory since its creation until this year, with performances at Lincoln Center, the Barbican Center (London), the Theatre d’Automne (Paris), and dozens of other theaters worldwide; how long does the subject linger at the end of the volume? (2005), live interactive projections for dance by Trisha Brown, with performances at Lincoln Center and the Monaco Dance Forum; Twice Through the Heart, 3D projections for chamber opera by Mark Anthony Turnage, commissioned by and performed at Sadler’s Wells, London (2011).
Museum installations: plant (2011), a 3D installation commissioned and exhibited by the University of Michigan and exhibited as well at the Detroit Institute of the Arts; Ghostcatching (1999) and After Ghostcatching (2010), collaborations with Bill T. Jones, originally commissioned by Cooper Union; first version exhibited at MASS MoCA, Centro Cultural de Belem (Lisbon), the Choreographic Center (Essen, Germany), and others; the second version, in 3D, exhibited at SITE Santa Fe, Sundance, Lincoln Center, the Nelson-Atkins Museum, and ICA-Boston. Loops (2001-11), a collaboration with Merce Cunningham, commissioned and exhibited by MIT Media Lab and the Kitchen, also installed at ICA London, Ars Electronica (Austria), and others. Point A to B, (2007 & 2009), exhibited at the Jerwood Space (London), ICA-Glasgow, and the Peter and Paul Fortress (St. Petersburg). Stairwell (2010), a 3D collaboration with Wayne McGregor, commissioned and exhibited by the Hayward Gallery, London; Into the Forest (2011), an interactive 3D installation commissioned and exhibited by the Museum of the Moving Image.
Public artworks: Pedestrian (2002), four New York City sites on opening, dozens of installations internationally thereafter; Enlightenment (2006), commissioned & exhibited outdoors by Lincoln Center; Breath (2007), commissioned and exhibited outdoors by Lincoln Center; Recovered Light (2007), commissioned by the City of York and projected on the eastern facade of the York Minster; Crossings (2010), commissioned by Nuit Blanche and projected onto the facade of the Royal Ontario Museum.
Digital cinema: Thought in motion (2011), a special 3D presentation created for the Lincoln Center Film Society; Upending (2011), presented at the New York Film Festival.
Prizes won individually or collectively: Guggenheim Fellowship, the John Cage Award from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, a Media Arts Fellowship from the Rockefeller Foundation, a Bessie award, an Arts in Multimedia Award from Brooklyn Academy of Music & Lucent.
Individual or collective writings have been published in ArtForum, Aperture, PAJ: A Journal of the Arts, as well as in chapters of books published by MIT Press, Wiley Press, Routledge Press, and Stanford University Press. Extensive writings also published on www.openendedgroup.com.
Speculative Designer, Fall 2011
What if we have to accept a higher level of risk in order to benefit from technology? When the unexpected does happen, what will it look like and how will communities respond? How will we live well in a world that is increasingly complex and interconnected?
Speculative designer James King collaborates with scientists to design potential applications for their research, imagining the possible outcomes if technologies developed in the lab were adopted by people in their everyday lives. The results are objects, films and images intended to spark debate on the desirable and undesirable qualities of future technology.
For King, the most rewarding aspect of these collaborations has been the opportunity, not just to interpret scientific research, but also to contribute to it. “The design process is an implicit but unrecognized aspect of the biological sciences. Through further collaborations and projects my aim is to build an explicit role for design as part of scientific practice.”
King’s project during his Witt Residency is a design and science collaboration imagining what it will be like to live with the risks created by developing technologies. Working with University of Michigan students and faculty, and the Ann Arbor community, King will stage a series of temporary installations and happenings in and around Ann Arbor that tell the story of a fictional technological accident and its ramifications.
The project will be documented as a film, and the film will be shown in as part of a seminar held at the end of the project bringing together experts to discuss the intersection between risk, science and art / design.
Collaborative Art, Fall 2010
In Fall 2010, Christopher Sperandio and Simon Grennan worked with UM students in the School of Art & Design’s Slusser Gallery workspace to create Conflict Theory as Game, a large-scale, interactive installation that was the site for a series of collaborative games. Conceived as a large-scale model of part of the University of Michigan campus and surrounding Ann Arbor community, UM students, faculty and staff, as well as members of the general public, participated in all stages of planning, execution, and play. The final cardboard and paint reconstruction of recognizable local streets and buildings was the setting for a series of conflict games.
In sociology, Conflict Theory is a set of ideas that emphasize conflict in human society. One assumption is that competition is at the heart of all social relationships. In a time of (seemingly) endless global conflicts, this new work sets notions of Conflict Theory at the center of an interactive installation. Drawing on sociology, psychology, architecture as well as art and design, the installation served as both a spectacle and a functioning space for communication and fun.
The international, collaborative artists Grennan and Sperandio have created interactive artworks for museums and art centers since the early 1990s. Identified with the Relational Aesthetics movement, the duo most often works in the form of comic books and animation.
Environmental/Installation Artist, Fall 2009 and Winter 2010
Dennisuk’s sculptural and environmental installation works investigate issues of light and space. His recent explorations of new material techniques explore the intersection between physics and art, linking realms of architecture, landscape art, and public installation.
Art on the Huron is a public art initiative drawing attention to our relationship with water and, by extension, the larger environment. The central motif of the project, a vessel-like form – evocative of figure and container – appears suspended on the water’s surface. This, together with the open mesh of the sculptural forms, suggests how subtle, delicate – and at present how strained – the balance between ourselves and the environment is.
Performer, Fall 2008 and Winter 2009
Pat Oleszko makes a spectacle of herself—and doesn’t mind if you laugh. The body is Oleszko’s armature for ideas. Utilizing elaborate costumes and props, she has created lithe performances, films, and installations that include trees, knees, breasts, and elephants. She has worked from the popular art forms of the street, party, parade and burlesque house, to the Museum of Modern Art, from Sesame Street Magazine to Ms, Playboy, and Artforum.
Gulliblurr’s Travels was a wild and burgeoning performance epic engaging the faculty and student/bodies in creating a series of installations, videos and theatrical presentations based on an updated, refigured vision of Jonathon Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. With direction and work created by Pat Oleszko and students thru workshops and rehearsal, the piece took place in a variety of locations, all filmed and edited into the final live performance event. Using the text as base of continuing exploration and contemporary inspiration, extraordinarily sculptural props and costumes, inflatables, original sound and a variety of diverse theatrics including puppets and the use of absurdity amidst realism created an outstanding performance.
Sound Artist/Composer, Winter 2008
Trimpin’s work is an ongoing exploration of sound, vision and movement, introducing our senses to a totally new experience. Although he uses the latest technologies, he works with “natural” elements—water, air, light, fire, etc.—reconfiguring them in new and unusual applications, pushing them to the limits, and beyond, of their traditional roles.
The Gurs Zyklus (Gurs Cycle) originated in Germany in 1940. The Hebrew tombstone inscriptions in the Jewish cemetery in Trimpin’s hometown puzzled him, and he learned all these people had been taken away to the Spanish-French border internment camp at Gurs–eventually many sent to the infamous death camps. Years later, composer Conlon Nancarrow mentioned being imprisoned at Gurs after fighting fascism with the Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil War. Reminded again of that grim connection, Trimpin wondered how he might express this painful episode in his village’s history.
Developing the scope and content of The Gurs Zyklus using the instrument “FireOrgan” was the focus of Trimpin’s residency. The project engaged a multitude of units beyond A&D including: the College of Engineering, the School of Information, the School of Music Theater & Dance, Taubman College of Architecture & Urban Planning, and the German Department.