by Billy Clouse
While T-Birds were gathered on Main Street discovering new clubs and adding their handprints to the Paint the Town Red Wall, art enthusiasts stood off the side of the road watching as light was painted on trees.
This interactive installation was on display for one night, August 31, and was the finale of Los-Angeles-based artist Sean Noyce’s summer residency in the Brian Head area. While taking a break from the city with his wife, Katya Usvitsky, Noyce drew inspiration from the fires that ravaged the area.
“I was blown away by the devastation that I experienced,” he said. “I wanted to do a piece that was reactive in some way, that responded to both the animosity that was perpetuated within the community and bring people to a middle ground… Everybody is pointing fingers at somebody else, when really, environmentalists and conservatives should be coming together to find a way to keep it from happening again next time. The piece was almost a spiritual rebirth of the forest.”
Once the sun went down, viewers were able to come up to a table and interact with the piece using a mouse. By sliding it around, they were able to control where and how quickly the forest was rebuilt. They could also choose how and when it would fade back to nothing.
In addition, a second projection was set up that was entirely computer-generated, which Noyce said required a lot of math to make the shapes more organic.
“When you’re working with projections, the bounds are limitless,” he said. “There’s a lot of interesting stuff happening with digital art and sound-based art, and I think we’re just at the tip of the iceberg in terms of tapping the possibilities.”
Another driving factor for the guerilla-style exhibit was the lack of digital projection art happening in the area.
“I’m kind of surprised that more artists aren’t doing more earth-based works out here because there’s so much great contemporary stuff to work with,” he said.
Much like Regeneration, Noyce said that the residency was an experiment.
“It was a testing ground to see if it was something we wanted to do every year,” he said. “I found the arts community here is good, but I feel like there’s no real infrastructure, so it would be great to get everybody to come together — I would love to collaborate more with the Cedar City Arts Council and the handful of contemporary galleries.”
In a press release, Noyce gave a full description of the installation, saying:
“Regeneration straddles the transitory plane between the world that we remember and one that has yet to be created. Every change we make, big or small, leaves a trace from that moment, which in turn builds on another. The marks, however profound, have an ephemeral effect since they are often dissolved, destroyed, or become obsolete with the arrival of the new.
“Because our perception of time is limited to the present, we’re not always aware of the imperceptible changes that are happening now. Regeneration gives pause to view the world from an alternate vantage point, providing a vision of an ecosystem that can be renewed with some social responsibility.”