Academics and Research / Arts and Culture / Magazine Feature

DU prof, students collaborate on Denver Art Museum exhibit

A DU professor and some of his students will be part of one the largest site-specific art commissions in an American museum this fall.

The commission — called “Embrace!” — features 17 artworks by top American and international artists that were created to ‘develop a dialogue’ between the art and the Denver Art Museum’s distinctive Hamilton Building.

Timothy Weaver, associate professor of electronic media arts design (eMAD) and digital media studies (DMS), is installing an interactive audio-visual artwork in a space on the 4th floor known as the Fusebox Gallery.

Weaver’s concept is to take ecological, celestial and climate data from historical and contemporary sources and transform it into an interactive artwork to raise consciousness about the ecological memory of the Hamilton site.

“Just as a painter uses pigment for his or her painting,” he explains, “the pigment we employ is data. Through the creative interpretation of these data sources related to the Hamilton site we hope that the patrons of the work will recall that architectural identity is integrally tied to the ecologies that envelope great buildings.”

Weaver invited four DU students with different talents to assist him with the project.

Brigid McAuliffe, an eMAD master’s student, created vocal pieces for a sonic interpretation of wind data gathered from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The compositions were inspired by the Beaufort wind force scale, which was created in 1805 by Irish admiral Francis Beaufort to describe sea conditions. On his scale, a light breeze is “wind felt on exposed skin” and hurricane-force winds are partly described as where “debris may be hurled about.”

“We each have a role and contribution, but we really feed off each other,” McAuliffe says of the collaboration.

David Fodel, an eMAD master’s student, built a wind harp that is played in real-time by solar wind data from a NASA satellite. He created sound design components specifically for the work.

“This is the first time I’ve shown in an institution this prestigious,” he says. “I’m thrilled to be a part of it.”

Josh Fishburn, who is finishing DMS and eMAD master’s degrees, created software that translates wind data into a soundscape using a combination of the audio work from McAuliffe and Fodel.

Nick Meyers, a senior DMS major, wrote software that allows a video camera to track the movements of patrons in the gallery. The movements are translated to video and audio expressions, which result in an interactive experience for patrons.

“These students are the next generation of new media artists,” Weaver says. “It’s a fantastic opportunity for our students to work in a venue like the [Denver Art Museum], to work with the personnel, to navigate the space, interact with the audience and patrons.”

The rest of “Embrace!” consists of never-before-seen painting, sculpture, and new media works. It was commissioned by Christoph Heinrich, the museum’s newly appointed director and curator of modern and contemporary art.

“Embrace!” opens Nov. 14 and runs through April 4, 2010. For more information,

Comments are closed.