REVIEW: Paved with Good Intentions

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” And from what it looks like, the foreseeable future that’s changing along with the climate is that hell. Artist David Opdyke’s exhibition changes the way you see the world and the bigger picture, both literally and figuratively.

His politically-charged art attempts to stir something in you, something nostalgic yet foreign. By creating a feeling of longing for the past and reaching for the future, he grounds you in the present. There is a sense of chaotic unity in the gridded mural landscape. It alleviates the gravity of climate change through its absurd humor while leading us through an anxious journey that some people wouldn’t be able to go through by themselves. The postcards create a personal relationship with the viewer, using scenes and landscapes we may recognize and defacing the postcards with his drawings in a fashion similar to how we deface the actual landscape.

“Paved with Good Intentions” utilizes different levels of intimacy. The installation works both from a distance and up close, and the intricacy of the details pulls you in, requiring you to step closer and look at every single postcard before stepping back out to see the whole picture. This work requires more time than you think it would take to look at everything, precisely because of how much there is to see. Every postcard is interconnected, from the tornado to the fire to the flying frogs, putting a global layer to something so local. The accompanying animation of his postcards uses a slapstick humor inspired from Monty Python’s “Flying Circus.” It uses a different media to convey the same message in a more animistic way.

The world is too big to quantify and the enormity of the climate change crisis is too large to fully encapsulate, but David Opdyke tackles it through something as simple and recognizable and approachable as postcards. Set aside some time to stop by the Institute for the Humanities to experience this humorously serious exhibition through February 26.

REVIEW: Earth Without Ice

Earth Without Ice

On Thursday October 25, the Kerrytown Concert House hosted an ‘Out of the Box’ musical performance, arranged and enacted by professors from several departments: Henry Pollack of Geophysics, and Steve Rush and Michael Gould of the School of Music. As part of the Abacus and Rose: SciArt Live series, which pairs scientists with artists, the trio of scholars created a stylish, modern piece called ‘Earth Without Ice.’

The performance consisted of a series of noises that soundtracked a slideshow of images projecting from screens on stage that faced the audience. The ‘immersive sonic landscape’ was composed of ‘found sounds’ taken from the Huron River. The photos came from Dr. Pollack’s visual journal as part of his most recent transit of the Northwest Passage from Alaska through the Canadian archipelago to Greenland. They featured vast oceans, floating chunks of ice, inuit peoples catching and gutting fish, elders laughing together, youngsters playing, seals and polar bears splashing, open earthen landscapes, and lots and lots of factories. The contrast between the natural images and the industrial environment was striking. The music was appropriately mixed to match the effect of the scenery. The recorded, manipulated, and live noises created an unusual interplay of sound which caused a strong affect on the curious audience.

The inspiration for the content came from Dr. Pollack’s recent book ‘A World Without Ice.’ The style, however, seemed to be inspired by a  hybrid of John Cage’s Water Walk and Andy Goldsworthy’s nature photography. I liked the performance a lot.  It conveyed a strong message about expressing the danger of climate change through artwork. It was a very unusual performance, but equally entertaining and certainly out of the box.