Visitors’ participation required at Cameron Art Museum’s new exhibit

PortCityDaily.com is your source for free news and information in the Wilmington area.

'Micro' is just one of several interactive pieces featured in CAM's latest exhibit. Photo courtesy Purring Tiger.
‘Micro’ – depicted here at its last stop in the Nevada desert – is just one of several interactive pieces featured in CAM’s latest exhibit. Photo courtesy Purring Tiger.

In the middle of Cameron Art Museum’s darkened exhibit hall sits an unassuming beige rectangular panel, lit overhead by a soft red light.

But when a young girl takes a step onto the surface something magical happens. As she moves across the panel – at first cautiously, then more playfully – the light dances with her steps, bringing unique shapes and patterns to life at every move as she turns to her dad with a look of wonder.

It’s just one of many pieces that make up the now-underway interactive installation, “Response is the Medium,” an exhibit that not only encourages viewer participation, but also requires it in order for the art to be fully realized.

“That’s the expectation,” Kim Kelly, Cameron Art Museum’s (CAM’s) communications manager, said. “You’ll miss so much if you don’t [participate].”

A young museum-goer plays with the movement-sensitive installation by Brian Knep. Photo by Hilary Snow.
A young museum-goer plays with the movement-sensitive installation by Brian Knep. Photo by Hilary Snow.

The exhibit, unveiled last week and up through early next year, is a rare one for CAM, Kelly said. The nearest it has had to something like “Response is the Medium” is Canadian installation artist Diane Landry in 2013.

“The exhibition team said Diane Landry was the inspiration and they felt like it was time to bring something like that back to Wilmington,” Kelly noted.

While Landry’s works, which play with everyday objects, light and shadows, were impressive in their color and stature, they were not user-friendly. At “Response is the Medium,” CAM visitors can touch and walk over, hammer and tap their way through pieces by two independent and four collaborative artists.

There’s Brian Knep’s movement-based floor panels, one diminishing and one exploding with color with movement. Knep, a computer scientist, was the first artist in residence at Harvard Medical School, working side-by-side with scientists to use their tools and techniques as he explored his art.

“The whole process is based on just two lines of math, but behind those two lines is a huge amount of complexities,” Kelly said.

There’s “Soundforge,” a two-year project by metalsmith Gabriel Craig and composer Michael Remson that combines video, audio and sculptural elements so as to show both the craftsmanship and percussive quality of metal-working.

'Soundforge' allows visitors to play hand-forged steel pieces with custom wood mallets. Photo by Hilary Snow.
‘Soundforge’ allows visitors to play hand-forged steel pieces with custom wood mallets. Photo by Hilary Snow.

After watching a video of the fusion of music and forging, viewers can take a variety of hand-carved mallets from the wall to play steel instruments, each of which have tuned to complement the musical score.

Then there’s an eerily beautiful installation of three pieces by Daniel Rozin, which, through the work of cameras set at different angles, mutate and evolve when a person stands in front of them. Stand there long enough, and a distorted version of your own image will start to emerge within the art.

Standing in one corner like a Dr. Seuss-imagined forest is “Micro,” the creation of the minds behind Purring Tiger. Artists Aaron Sherwood and Kiori Kawai created a wonderland of sounds and sights with the stringing of 200 translucent balls of all shapes and sizes that, when touched, emit a variety of sounds and colors.

“Micro” was mostly recently featured at last year’s Burning Man, the annual avant garde music and arts festival in the northern Nevada desert.

Kelly said “The Response is in the Medium” has been well received so far by patrons of all ages, especially younger audiences.

“You can’t keep the kids out of here,” she said. “It’s great to come here knowing you are going to be interacting.”

CAM, 3201 S. Seventeenth St., is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Admission is $8 (free for members; $5 for seniors, military members and students; $3 for children three to 12).

Hilary Snow is a reporter at Port City Daily. Reach her at (910) 772-6341 or hilary.s@portcitydaily.com.